– In the last days, deception will come– false prophets will rise up and deceive many (Matt 24:11), claiming to be Jesus returned (Mark 13:6), some with signs and wonders, deceiving even the elect, “if possible” (Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22). How do we protect against this?
– Focus on knowing the truth, and then you will recognize deception (as how the bankers are trained to recognize counterfeit money). The world is confused about what truth is (John 18:37-38) because they don’t hear His voice. God’s word is truth (John 17:17, Psa 25:5, Psa 91:4, Psa 96:13, 100:5, 117:2, 119:142, 151, 160; 138:2, Prov 3:3), including the gospel (Col 1:5)
– God is called the God of truth (Isa 65:16).
– Jesus is the truth (John 14:6, as well as the Word, John 1:1-3, 14).
– The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13, 1 John 5:6) and He will guide us into all truth. Through the anointing of the Holy One, we know all things and He will instruct us (1 John 2:20, 2:27).
– We must worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24)–i.e. according to His word and by the help of the Holy Spirit.
– Love rejoices in truth (1 Cor 13:6) – both fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23, Eph 5:9)
– Renew our minds with the Word (Romans 12:2); thus we will recognize God’s will. Truth is the foundation of the spiritual armor (Eph 6:14)–it goes on first. Only knowing the truth will make us free (John 8:32).
– Once we know the truth, we are to continue in what we were taught (Col 2:6-7, 1 John 2:24).
– Truth of course also means words corresponding to reality (Gen 42:16), and whether our actions/words correspond to our thoughts and emotions (Josh 24:14, 1 Sam 12:24, 1 John 3:18)
– The opposite of this is hypocrisy, or pretense (Phil 1:18), or unrighteousness (2 Thess 2:12).
– What if an idea, concept, or belief that comes to us isn’t addressed in scripture at all?
– Is it consistent with God’s character? Jesus said we can ask anything in His name and He will give it to us (John 14:14). What’s in God’s name? He is Jehovah Nissi (the Lord my Banner), Jehovah-Raah (the Lord my Shepherd), Jehovah Rapha (the Lord that Heals), Jehovah Shammah (the Lord is There), Jehovah Tsidkenu (the Lord our Righteousness), Jehovah Mekoddishkem (the Lord who Sanctifies You), Jehovah Jireh (the Lord who Provides), Jehovah Shalom (the Lord is Peace), Jehovah Sabaoth (the Lord of Hosts).
– What is its fruit? (Gal 5:19-23, Romans 8:6-8) God won’t lead us into anything producing negative fruit–if the fruit is negative, it’s from the flesh and not the Spirit.
– The opposite of truth is deceit(Prov 12:17, Isaiah 59:4, Jer 9:5, 2 Cor 4:2). Satan is the father of deceit/lies and there is no truth in him (John 8:44). Those who are unrighteous will suppress the truth (Romans 1:18).
– False teachers will distort the truth (Acts 20:29-30, 2 Peter 3:16), by mixing it with myths/fables (Titus 1:14) or “merely human commands” (Matthew 16:1-12) or the traditions of men (such as forbidding to marry, abstaining from certain foods, 1 Tim 4:3), according to the principles of the world (Col 2:4-8). They will pretend to be godly or moral, though (2 Cor 11:13-15, 2 Tim 6:5)–so we must use discernment.
– How do we know a false teacher vs just one who is flawed?
– Anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is a false teacher (1 John 2:22-23, 4:2-3)
– Some may lie intentionally for their own gain (Deut 18:20, Ezekiel 13:9, Jer 14:14, Jer 23:16, Titus 1:10-11) or in hypocrisy (1 Tim 4:2)
– Others may be so blind that they truly believe they are doing God a favor in persecuting His true followers (John 16:2).
– Romans 16:18: Paul said in this verse that these individuals use good words and fair speeches and deceive the hearts of the simple. This means that they flatter people (2 Timothy 4:3) and appeal to the same selfish desires that they themselves have, to draw people after themselves (Acts 20:30).
– We can’t judge motives (Matthew 7:1-3), but we can and should judge fruit (Matthew 7:15-20, 1 John 3:7-9). There are many who claim to be believers but aren’t (Matthew 7:21-23) and they’ll be among us until the end of the age, when God will finally separate them out (Matthew 13:24-30).
– The serpent is subtle and cunning (Gen 3:1, 2 Cor 11:3-4). We’ll have to know scripture well so that it cannot be twisted against us. Satan tried to deceive Jesus with scripture (Matt 4:6)–and not even misquoted, just out of context. Some examples of how beliefs can be twisted and used against us if we’re not careful:
– Some teach that God causes or allows sickness in order to teach us something. This sounds spiritual–yet Deut 28 makes it clear that sickness is always considered a curse. Jesus became a curse for us and redeemed us from the curse (Gal 3:13-14), and even before that, He healed all who came to Him (Matt 15:30, Matt 4:23-24, Matt 8:16, Matt 9:35, Matt 10:1, Matt 12:15, Matt 15:30, Luke 4:40, Luke 10:9) and He was a perfect representation of the Father (John 5:19, 5:30, 8:28, 12:49)
– 2 Kings 18:4: the people had converted God’s symbol for healing, the brass serpent from Numbers 21:6-9, a future type of Jesus, into an idol which they called Nehushtan. King Hezekiah had torn down the high places and broke Nehushtan in pieces. When Rabshakeh from the king of Assyria threatened the people with destruction, he said, “You broke down God’s symbols of worship! Why would He come through for you?” (2 Kings 18:22). The people had to know God and His word well enough to know that what Hezekiah did was right in God’s eyes (2 Kings 18:5-7); if they didn’t, they might easily lose faith that God would come through for them, and also turn against Hezekiah, thinking he’d brought them out from under God’s protection.

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