The Age of Deceit - Part 3by Ron Matsen
In Part 2 of “The Age of Deceit,” we began to explore the “devices,” or M.O. of Satan by which he has deceived mankind since the dawn of time. We witnessed how a simple conversation with the wrong type of person can easily slip into Satan’s devices of Contradiction, Condescension, and ultimately Deconstruction.
From Eden to the End-Times scenario, Satan is following a predictable pattern of deception. What does the Bible have to say about the End Times?
Matthew’s Gospel gives us the response of Jesus to this question.
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?’ And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you.’ ”
The apostle Paul expands on this by stating,
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”
1 Timothy 4:1
A doctrine is defined as “the codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system.” Simply put, a doctrine is the formalized expression of a foundational belief.
Deception by Disinformation
What are these “doctrines of devils” Paul warns us about? Satan often relies on deception through disinformation. Misinformation is defined as an accidental untruth, where disinformation is the intentional misrepresentation of the truth. Therefore, doctrines of devils are creeds that offer counterfeit truths.
Paul expressed his fear for the wayward church in Corinth by saying,
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”
2 Corinthians 11:3,4
Paul points to a chilling parallel; “as the serpent deceived Eve…”
Paul then warns of 3 deceptions that they “may well put up with.”
As Jesus was warning His disciples during His end-times discourse, He told them,
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” John, the apostle, declared, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.”
1 John 2:22,23
The deception of the antichrist is to present a “pseudo-Christ” (an alternative Christ). Not everyone who names the name of Jesus means the same person as revealed in the Bible.
The Muslims say they believe in Jesus. But Muslims describe Jesus as “Isa. His message was pure Islam, ‘surrender to Allah.’” They go on to assert that “Isa’s original disciples were also true Muslims, for they said ‘We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered. We are Muslims.’” Although the apostle Paul claims that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is the true Gospel, the Muslims claim that although Christians believe “Isa died on a cross, and Jews claim they killed him, in reality he was not killed or crucified, and those who said he was crucified lied.”
The Mormons say they believe in Jesus. But they do not believe that Jesus was born of the virgin as described in the Bible. They proclaim that “the birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood - was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers.” They go on to say that “Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, a creation.”
The Jehovah Witnesses say they believe in Jesus. But they teach that “the Son of God was known as Michael before he came to earth.” In the J.W. version of the Bible, John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” They suggest that Jesus “was a powerful godlike one. Clearly, Jesus is not Almighty God.”
The Roman Catholics say they believe in Jesus. But in their veneration of Mary, they define a diminished Jesus. The Jesus of Roman Catholic doctrine is eternally connected and dependent on His mother Mary. She is “the Queen over all things”, our “Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix, who is “full of grace”, the “Mother of God and our mother.” It was Mary who “crushed the poisonous head of the most cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world”. It is she who “delivers our souls from death”, and “continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation”.
There is so much more that could be said of the Hollywood Jesus and the Jesus of numerous cults, that all present another Jesus. Jesus is not defined by what others believe and teach about Him, but He is defined by Scripture only. Clearly, we are living in the days when there are many misrepresentations of the Jesus of the Bible.
Often spiritual deception is accomplished primarily through the working of counterfeit miracles. Concerning the antichrist, the apostle Paul warned,
“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
2 Thessalonians 2:9,10
Paul identifies three areas of potential spiritual deception:
Counterfeit Power – The Book of Acts gives us insight into this area of concern.
“But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.”
Therefore, Simon used sorcery to demonstrate enough spiritual power that the people referred to him as “the great power of God.”
Counterfeit Signs – Exodus chapters 7 and 8 detail the works of the Egyptian magicians. They were able to mimic the first 4 miracles that God worked by the hand of Moses before Pharaoh. We also read that because of these signs produced by his magicians his heart grew hard against the commands of God.
Counterfeit Wonders – What is a “wonder?” It comes from the Greek word “teras” which means “an exceptional event” or “omen.” It is used only 16 times in the New Testament, 13 times speaking of the Works of God. If “power, signs, and wonders” can be produced by both God and Satan how can we know which are of God?
John gives us a simple test.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
1 John 4:1-3
Spiritual discernment requires testing. It starts with “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” things like the Bible. The authentic Holy Spirit will never contradict the Scriptures. Therefore, never use our “natural mind” to discern the activity of the Spirit. The truly spiritual “judge all things” to determine what is from God.
The last commandment of Jesus before His ascension was for His disciples to “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” The simple meaning of the word “gospel” is the “good news.” The apostle Paul gave us a summary of the Gospel.
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
1 Corinthians 15:3,4 KJV
As the early Church went out to fulfill Christ’s commandment, they presented:
In an attempt to see membership increase, some modern churches have strayed into non-Biblical practices that actually eclipse the presentation of the true gospel message. These types of conversions require no understanding of God, sin, judgment, nor atonement.
Absent are the core elements of the true gospel that it leaves the hearer to determine for themselves which Jesus they choose to believe in. For many, this leads to a metaphysical, self-validated experience that ultimately does not bring these new “believers” into a real understanding of the Biblical conditions for reconciliation with God.
This is a wide-reaching, experience-based Christianity, which seems to allow each participant to follow their own emotions as a guide to truth. The emersion of the senses is at the heart of this type of religious experience. Entertainment and excitation become key elements in their church services. This becomes showtime for the sheep.
It also engenders a type of Feel-Good-Factor-Faith Christianity that appeals to those who are looking to basically improve their current life situation. Health, wealth, and prosperity are the key inducements for these followers. There is no downside with this gospel message. The hearer only needs to embrace the abundant life that is promised by these preachers.
Sadly, these alternative gospels present a man-centered message that often presents a cross-less Christ; a Christ whose sole purpose it to bless and benefit mankind. Jesus warned,
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Matthew 7:13,14 KJV
Jesus then emphasizes this truth by stating,
“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Combating Satan’s Disinformation
What can we do in this age of deception? Paul told his disciple Timothy,
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
2 Timothy 4:1-5
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2 Matthew 24:5
3 Āl ‘Imran 3:84
4 Al-Ma’idah 5:111
5 1 Corinthians 15:3,4
6 An-Nisa’ 4:157
7 Matthew 1:22
8 Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, p. 115
9 Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15
10 Reasoning from the Scriptures, p. 218
11 You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, p. 40
12 Catechism of the Catholic Church 966
13 Ibid 969
14 Ibid 722
15 Ibid 2677
16 Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus
17 Catechism of the Catholic Church 966
18 Ibid 969
19 John 4:48, Acts 2:19, Acts 2:22, Acts 2:43, Acts 4:30, Acts 5:12, Acts 6:8, Acts 7:36, Acts 14:3, Acts 15:12, Rom 15:19, 2 Cor 12:12, Heb 2:4
20 1 Thessalonians 5:21,22
21 1 Corinthians 2:13
22 1 Corinthians 2:14
23 1 Corinthians 2:15
24 Mark 16:15