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Be Not Deceived
Part 1: The Foundation of Truth
(Note: Except where otherwise stated all Bible references are taken from the New King James Version - NKJV with the Holy Names inserted.)
As Yahshua “sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, …what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’.” (Matt 24:3) He started His reply by saying to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah and will deceive many’” - verses 4 and 5.
He continued with a similar warning, but with a different emphasis in verses 11 and 12.
This article is the first of a series of writings that will examine these important end-time signs of deception that Yahshua said will take place on a massive scale before His return. This first part will cover some basic concepts that will be of fundamental significance throughout the series.
End Time Signs
Yahshua’s disciples probably thought that the end of the age and Yahshua’s return would have been during their lifetime. They wanted to know the signals they could expect as that time drew near. Those disciples have all died, but Yahshua’s answer to their inspired question is of special importance to His disciples today.
We are living at a truly historic time when events are moving at an unprecedented pace and we are seeing the fulfilment of many prophecies in our lifetime. Problems facing our leaders have moved from a national to a global scale. The solutions they seek are no longer confined merely to the welfare of any country but are as far-reaching and interlinked as the problems themselves, embracing all of mankind. The forces of evil are more rampant now than they have ever been before. Payday is here. The wild seeds of selfishness, greed and deception sown over countless generations are now producing a profuse harvest of suffering and anxiety. No longer can we feel secure in the cocoon of stability and safety that we had painstakingly woven. Now more than ever we are vulnerable to whirlwind forces that are beyond our control. The world seems to be getting into and messing up every ‘tidy’ corner in which we had lived. In this global setting we can better appreciate the significance of Yahshua’s words. Although deception has been a feature of life since the time of our earliest parents, it has grown and is continuing to grow at an alarming rate encompassing the world in accordance with predictions in the Bible. Now more than ever it is a real challenge to maintain our guard and to be faithful to be end. Those of us who have read the end of the drama know that without the present scenes we cannot get to the finale. We are getting there fast! Let us ensure that we will proceed not as fearful helpless spectators, but as active participants in the role for which we were chosen.
Yahshua’s warning to His disciples in Matt 24:4-5 of pseudo messiahs, is taken up by John who wrote in 2 John 1:7,
“many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Yahshua the Messiah as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti- Messiah.”
1 John 4:3 tells us,
“every spirit that does not confess that Yahshua the Messiah has come in the flesh is not of Yahweh. And this is the spirit of the Anti-Messiah, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
In all of the major religions, hundreds of people have either themselves claimed or have been acclaimed to be the Messiah since Yahshua made His prediction. Never before has any one of these false religions posed such a global threat and danger as Islam now poses to the rest of the world. Islam is the second largest but is also the fastest growing religion. Their objective is world dominance. They see non-Islams as infidels who must be converted, subjugated or eliminated. Meanwhile, although the largest religion (Christianity) recognises Yahshua (called Jesus) as the true Messiah, it is a very diluted, weak, and fragmented version of the early nucleus of followers that Yahshua had established. By departing from the doctrines of their Messiah, they have become ineffective and are allowing other religions such as Islam to make significant inroads into the religious life of their nations.
Those who are convinced that Yahshua is the Messiah need to hold on to that conviction in spite of any opposition. Though wrong may sometimes seem to prevail, it does not and cannot become truth. Only Yahshua is
“the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him],” John 14:6.
Only Yahshua is the Son of Yahweh. Only He died for our sins and rose again. Only He is seated at the right hand of Yahweh. Only He is coming again to judge the living and the dead, including Mohammed and anyone else who claims equality with or superiority to Yahweh’s Son;
“nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.
The focus of this series of articles will not be on Anti-Messiahs and false religions, but instead on another warning that Yahshua gave in Matthew chapter 24. In verses 11 and 12 Yahshua forewarned us of a different form of deception. He said,
“Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”
The deceivers in this case are not pseudo Messiahs, but false teachers who would corrupt the sound doctrine previously taught by Yahshua and His disciples.
Weymouth renders Matt 24:11 and 12 as follows:
“Many false prophets will rise up and lead multitudes astray; and because of the prevalent disregard of [Yahweh’s] law the love of the great majority will grow cold.”
Peter expressed this same thought when he wrote in 2 Peter 2:1-3a,
“There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying [the Redeemer] who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words."
In Acts 20:29-30a Paul stated:
“I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.”
Paul continuing this theme said
“in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” 1 Tim 4:1-2.
These repeated prophecies emphasise that in the last days, many false teachers and prophets (in addition to the pseudo Messiahs) will arise who will seek to minimize the significance of Yahweh’s commands. Massive numbers of persons will be led from following after the truths and commandments of Yahweh into obeying their deceived and deceiving teachers who will disregard the laws of Yahweh and promote a doctrine that glorifies self rather than Yahweh.
The initial stages of the fulfilment of these prophecies began soon after the words were spoken. Jude expressed a compulsion to write about deceivers who had crept in unnoticed and had “[turned] the grace of our Elohim into lewdness” (Jude 3-4). He admonished all true believers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” - verse 3b. It appears from Jude’s comments that ‘grace’ was used as the licence for licentious behaviour. He was therefore admonishing his readers to hold fast the message that Yahshua had delivered once for all time and for all people, and which was unalterable. In part 2 of this series, we will be considering how Christendom has departed from Yahshua’s teachings.
Since Jude’s day, deception has multiplied to the present unparalleled global level. Today there are many “wolves in sheep’s clothing” teaching whatever draws and woos a crowd, according to the dictates of their mind. This form of deception is subtler than that of Anti-Messiahs in other religions, for the false teachers all claim to take their doctrines from the Bible, and to be followers of Yahshua (Jesus). On the surface they may appear to be declaring the truth but actually they twist, spin or over emphasise a particular Biblical topic so as to promote their own agendas and beliefs. Generally, they raise expectations of a good life here and now, or of an easy route into the kingdom by bypassing or diluting Yahweh’s commands, or embracing customs and traditions that are steeped in paganism. Such teachings have many adherents in Christendom;
“for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it,” Matt 7:13-14.
Yahshua, foreseeing this, cautioned all His followers to be on the alert and not to be hoodwinked by any popular or persuasive teaching or prophecy that will lead large numbers away from the truth that He had taught. The momentous happenings in the world that are in fulfilment of Bible prophecies are the signal that Yahshua’s return is near. Now is not the time to go astray but rather to heed Yahshua’s warnings. Be on your guard lest you are also swept away from Yahweh’s truths by the strong currents of lies and deception that are so prevalent now as the Bible has predicted. Be not deceived!
The Deceiver and the Deceived
Whatever form decption may take, it emanates from the central source or headquarters of all deception, the archdeceiver called Satan.
Yahshua described Satan as “a liar and the father of it,” John 8:44. Revelation 12:9 calls him “the great dragon...that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.”
Satan is active today more than ever in his job that began before man was created. Gathering together his team in heaven, he led one third of the angels in rebellion against Yahweh. Thrown out of heaven he came to earth angry and resolved to wreck Yahweh’s work on the earth and to cause others to be separated from Yahweh. His earthly evil plan was soon targeted at Yahweh’s first human creatures, and in the Garden of Eden he seduced Eve, causing her with Adam to violate the commands of Yahweh and to be banished from the Garden. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, their eyes became opened to sin, but closed to righteousness. Spiritually, they had become blind, or to be more exact, myopic. They could see the short-term gains and quick-fix solutions but could not perceive the more long-range eternal values, based upon obedience to Yahweh. Spiritual myopia like a disease passed on to all of their descendants throughout all generations even to this day.
Thus partly through the sinful nature acquired from our forefathers, but mainly as a result of Satan’s relentless work in bombarding and infiltrating unsuspecting minds, man has been constantly deceived. Blind, deluded and with false confidence, he gropes in darkness, holding on to whatever is within limited vision, easy reach, or promises sensual gratification. He is obsessed with the things that pertain to this life – the here and now, but is sceptical or uninterested about the hereafter. Shortsighted, he remains an unsuspecting captive of Satan’s duplicity.
“DECEIVED!” seems to be the caption that applies to most people at the present time. Evidence of deception or of being deceived is to be found in many ways and in all areas of life. It is demonstrated in drug addicts who think they know the way to tranquillity and enlightenment but end up even more distressed and deluded. It is in the terrorists and religions that believe their causes will succeed by destroying their opponents. It is equally evidenced in governments or individuals who imagine they can somehow defeat an evil ideology without accepting the remedy for man’s inherently wicked nature. It manifests itself in infants, who, without training, know how to conceal their wrongdoings from their parents. It is shown in teenage pregnancies, broken homes, indiscriminate stabbings, school shootings, moral decline and global financial upheavals. It motivates all attempts to cheat or lie everywhere. It is in all generations, races, and socio-economic classes of people throughout the world who believe they already know and can provide or find the solutions to life’s greatest and elusive problems without walking in the paths wisely designed by their Maker.
Diabolical manipulation of the mind through misinformation manifests itself in racism, Satanism, the theory of evolution, the occults, false tactics in advertising, merchandizing and selling and in double dealing and doubletalking in nearly all pursuits of life. Deception knows no bounds. It is in every crevice of our society, even in places of worship that should be the bastions of truth that are tainted with many misconceptions, half-truths, downright lies and elements of paganism such as Santa Claus and the many customs associated with the Christmas celebrations. The list is endless. Deception is rampant in schools, colleges, universities, homes, workplaces, families, and organizations – generally where there is interaction between two or more persons. It causes many to make wrong decisions that carry long lasting detrimental consequences. Indeed, it is so far-reaching that no one could boast of having never deceived or been deceived. Paul had aptly described our times when he wrote:
“Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of Yahweh, having a form of [the worship of Yahweh] but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Tim 3:1-5).
All of these characteristics flow from a deceived mind that seeks its own way and not the will of Yahweh. As sin and suffering entered the world when Eve was deceived and disobeyed Yahweh, so the whole world is experiencing a deterioration that will only worsen while it continues in a thick cloud of deception as it turns its back away from the light of its Creator. Yet, they prefer the ‘wisdom’ of their deceived minds than to consider and take heed of the wisdom that comes from above. Better the devil we know than the Almighty who we do not know seems to be their maxim.
The Deceiver’s Strategy
The chaotic and diabolical situation of the world is evidence of the activity of Satan who with his team of demon spirits “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8) and bombards and captivates the minds of ordinary people turning them from Yahweh into paths of unrighteousness and destruction. Paul explains that some who do not know the truth fall into
“the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will,” 2 Tim 2:26.
Over the ages Satan and his demons have been setting baited traps into which many unsuspecting persons have fallen, causing disorder, havoc, wickedness and sin to multiply and accelerate with each generation.
The temptations of Yahshua and Eve (Read Matt 4:1-11 and Gen 3) give some insight into how the deceiver tries to worm his way into our minds in order to bring about his desired destructive and evil intent. In each case, although some details of his technique varied to suit the object of his temptation, his fundamental intentions and strategy were the same. In both instances he
|· Sought to disrupt Yahweh’s plan
· Knew Yahweh’s word beforehand, twisted it and
· Took advantage of a potential weakness in his subjects – naivety in Eve and Yahshua’s
|His strategy for doing this was to try to get both Eve and Yahshua to|
| Satisfy self rather than please Yahweh
Obey him and disobey Yahweh
Sever their relationship with Yahweh and
Achieve a goal by taking shortcuts and ignoring the consequences.
The same purposes and methods of Satan brought about totally opposite responses from Eve and Yahshua.
|o Eve did not know Satan for He was disguised. Yahshua knew him instantly.
o Eve was gullible and accepted the words of the serpent in preference to Yahweh’s
words. Yahshua stood firmly on Yahweh’s words and could not be moved.
o Eve allowed her senses to follow in the direction where Satan led and acted accordingly,
even though she was not hungry. Yahshua, though hungry and weak after fasting for
forty days, put Yahweh above the demands of His body.
o In the end Eve yielded to Satan. Yahshua drove him away.
The fundamental strategy used by Satan in deceiving Eve and trying to deceive Yahshua is the same as he employs today to lead Yahweh’s people astray. He twists Yahweh’s words, takes advantage of man’s inherent weaknesses, tempts us to satisfy the flesh rather than please Yahweh, seeks to get us to obey him and disobey Yahweh and emphasizes the short cuts to the kingdom or to a better life here and now.
Deceptions are strong delusions or lies by which the enemy hopes to lead astray large numbers (if possible the world) from following after the truths of Yahweh. Do not be deceived. In whatever guise and through whomsoever he works, his intention is the same. He comes “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy,” John 10:10. He wants to sever your relationship with Yahweh, deny your heritage of eternal life and hinder Yahweh’s plan in your life and for His people. DO NOT LET HIM. Use Yahshua’s example to defy and defeat him. Believe and stand resolutely on Yahweh’s word, allowing no room for compromise. Satan does not ask for much initially – the smallest aperture of doubt, the minutest sign of gullibility, the least interest in promoting self, or the most negligible weakness will suffice to give him sufficient space in which to curl and expand himself round your mind until you are captivated, strangulated, and finally separated from Yahweh.
Satan did not succeed in deceiving Yahshua and neither must he be allowed to triumph over you. Yahweh’s word in you is greater than all the forces and strategies of the adversary. It is your sword. Use it to resist the enemy; then in ‘Yahshuan’ style send him packing. The truth of Yahweh abides forever, and you can stand forever on those truths, immovable, firm and strong though others around you are opting for diluted and popular theologies of Satan dressed up as truths.
Where is Truth?
When Eve was tempted, she disobeyed Yahweh by devaluing His commands. Yahweh said she would die. Satan put doubts into Eve’s naïve mind, and then won her over by persuasive self-gratifying suggestions. Whenever the truths of Yahweh are compromised for what is appealing, or satisfying to the senses, you can be sure that Satan has once again reenacted the Garden of Eden strategy. Satan went and did his mischief in the Garden of Eden which was the most perfect place on earth where Yahweh would frequently visit those He had created in His own likeness. The nearest thing to Eden in this day and age should be the places where Yahweh is worshipped. Like innocent Eve in the Garden, many worshippers do not consider that no place is out of bounds from Satan. Since Satan had the impudence to enter Yahweh’s meeting place, and thousands of years later sought to lead Yahweh’s Son astray, then it is clear that no individual, organization or sacred place is beyond Satan’s field of interest. Satan knows that if he can get in among those who desire to be in Yahweh’s presence and dress up himself and his counterfeit teachings in an attractive attire, that is acceptable to the majority, they will coast along with false confidence in his broad-way that leads to destruction.
Contrary to the misconceptions of most religions and denominations, truth is not the prerogative or monopoly of any organization or group, however sincere they may be. Sincerity is not the hallmark or measure of truth. It is possible to be sincerely wrong. Truth resides only in Yahweh.
“The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever,” Ps 119:160.
Man’s interpretation of Yahweh’s word can be and is often wrong. Our knowledge and understanding at its best is limited, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, … Now I know in part,” 1 Cor 13:12. For this reason it does not follow that because some one claims to be a prophet, or teacher, he/she is necessarily always declaring the truths of Yahweh. No one is the total and perfect embodiment of all truth. Only Yahweh and Yahshua are the holders of such a unique and prestigious position. If we are to avoid the pitfalls of deception, we must “not put [our] trust in princes, nor in a son of man,” Ps 146:3, nor his religion, nor in his teachings, nor our reasoning, feelings or convictions, but only in Yahweh and His undiluted word, which is “a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path,” Psalms 119:105. (If the dosage of Yahweh’s word is too strong for you or makes you feel uncomfortable, do not try diluting it. Instead take it in smaller portions.)
Yahshua, the Son of Yahweh, who came from heaven to be the Saviour of the world and to show us the way to the Father, told us
“whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock,” Matt 7:24.
If we would take heed to Yahshua’s words and pay less attention to man’s words, we would not be deceived.
Conclusion - Avoiding Satanic Seduction
In Matthew 24:13 Yahshua said, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” With the strong tides of deception that are sweeping the earth, you will not survive except your beliefs are built upon the solid, strong and sure foundation of Yahweh’s truth. It is clear from Yahshua’s strategy in His temptation that when we “know the truth, … the truth shall make [us] free" and enable us to discern error (John 8:32).
We do not have to yield to Satan’s seductive messages, regardless of who bears them. Satan cannot force you to believe a lie. The Hebrew boys and Daniel defied the threats of their heathen king and stood resolutely on the commandments of Yahweh in total disregard of the possible fatal consequences. You do not have to give in however strong the opposition or allurement may be. Take your stand, and the truth will set you free from the bondages of the adversary. There is only one way we can safely confront and withstand all false teachings. It is by the unswerving application of Yahweh’s pure words. We must know what Yahweh’s word really says for ourselves, have it riveted into our minds and be determined beforehand that we will not deviate to the left or to the right. We can learn from Eve’s defeat and Yahshua’s triumph. One wavered. The other was steadfast.
Let us stand upon the truths of the Bible and pay special attention to Yahshua’s words. HE is the way and the truth.
Hebrews cautions us:
“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain,” Hebrews 12:25-27.
Yahshua having left His words with us is still speaking to us through those words. The final shaking has begun. Everything that can be shaken is being shaken that in the end only that which cannot be shaken will remain. Nothing, no place and no one on earth will escape the shaking, except the pure, unadulterated and authentic word of Yahweh, including His prophecies that cannot be shaken. The shaking will weaken the beliefs of many persons, but be not deceived. If you are truly anchored in Yahweh’s word, you may be shaken but you will not be moved for
“those who trust in Yahweh are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever,” Psalms 125:1.
Therefore let us not turn away from the voice of Him who speaks from heaven today through the fulfilment of His written word, to heed the voice of someone who may appear to be ‘heavenly’. We ought only to listen to others when their words are in strict accordance with the distinct words of Yahweh. A doctrine based upon one word, or a misunderstood concept in the Bible, or a verse taken out of context, is not correct simply on the basis that it is taken from the Scriptures. This is how false doctrines are started and developed. Be not deceived. The power of Satan is already broken. His deceptions do not have to lodge in your heart.
“Submit to Yahweh. Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” James 4:7.
“Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown,” Rev 3:11.
-Elder Buel Hallpike
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