The last two Bible studies we’ve been talking about the fact that there are signs that Jesus is coming back soon. Because these signs are so important, Jesus encourages His followers to know those signs. Jesus encourages us in Luke 21 to not be intoxicated by pleasures of this world, to not be dulled in our thinking by moral confusion, nor to be overwhelmed by worry about our needs and those of our family, because when we are focused on those things, we cannot see clearly. Instead, Jesus wants our full attention, not just part of it. He wants our focus to be on Him, to be vigilantly watching, to be alertly in tune with His Holy Spirit so that we do not miss a thing.
Furthermore, Jesus wants us to love each other with His word. He wants us, like good stewards of a household, to feed our fellow servants the meat of the word, to eagerly and zealously seek that the Holy Spirit might manifest through each of us that we might edify each other, and that we might be found faithfully doing so when He returns.
Why is this so important? Why is being in the Word of God so important? Why is loving each other with the Word so important? Why is allowing the Spirit to manifest through us to edify each other with God’s word so important?
Let’s look at a few passages of Scripture that will shed some light on this.
The First Sign: Jesus’ Warning
Matthew 24:3-5, 23-28 “3 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?4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many… 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.25 Behold, I have told you before.26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.28 For wheresoever the carcase is[present subjunctive active = it is ongoing action by the dead body – for in whatever place, if the carcass/dead body continues to exit (and he does), there the eagles will be brought together], there will [future indicative passive = a statement of fact for the future that will be done to this group] the eagles be gathered together…” So, the disciples of Jesus asked Him, ‘what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ And to this Jesus responded with a large number of signs, not just one. But, the first sign and the predominant sign that riddles Matthew 24 as well as Paul (2 Timothy 3-4 etc.), Peter (2 Peter 2), Jude and John (1 John 4), is that of deception.
“It’s easier to fool people, than to convince them that they have been fooled” – Mark Twain
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 “1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ [the Lord] is at hand [right now].3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [a defection, revolt and/or great divorce] first…”
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
— 2 Timothy 4:3,4
What is Deception?
In Matthew 24, Jesus tells His followers to “take heed” that they be not deceived. According to Greek scholar Rick Renner, “In the original Greek, the words “take heed” were intended to jar and jolt the disciples to get their attention. As they perked up to really listen to what Jesus was telling them, they heard Him warn that as the present age came to a conclusion, an unprecedented deception would…” unfold.
“In Matthew 24:4, the word “deceive” is used to depict this period when it will look as if delusion is taking over the world.” The Greek word for deceive “means to lead astray or to wander off course. This word “deceive” could depict a single individual who has wandered far off course, or it could describe a whole nation or nations that have morally veered from the position once held to be true…[and] depicts a person (or nation) who, although once established on solid ground, is now morally drifting and teetering on the edge of a crooked, dangerous path. This individual has lost his bearings and has drifted off-track. He had already departed, or was in the process of departing, from what he once morally believed.”
In other words, Jesus is not addressing the world who was already in darkness and deceived. Rather, Jesus is addressing believers who turn from truth to truth laced with a lie. Let’s remember, deception is subtle not overt and is often slipped in with a question. The serpent in the garden did not tell Adam and Eve that you will die spiritually as soon as you eat the fruit and all hell will break loose on creation and evil will sweep in like an unstoppable flood. No. Instead, the serpent crept in stealthily with a simple little question that made them wonder if God was withholding something from them, and then presented a misleading statement that they would be like the gods if they partook. The inquiry intrigued Eve and the offer of godhood seduced both Adam and Eve. The truth was, they did not have knowledge of evil and through the eating of the fruit they did come to see evil. The truth also was that they were already created in God’s image and were like God. But, the serpent wrapped a lie in truth, and until they unwrapped it they did not know. Adam and Eve were believers, but subtle deception caught their shield of faith in God’s word on fire, and seduced them into disobedience via promises that stroked their ego.
The Great Deception
The passage of 2 Timothy 4 adds that an unprecedented deception will take place in a particular season in time, and that season is the “last part of the last days.” (Renner, “Last Days Deception” article). This deception will permeate the entire world, and will penetrating the Church.
Two Bible Studies ago it was established that we are in the Last Days. But are we in the last of the Last Days? To answer that we have to ask the question: Are we seeing this deception now?
We know already that the world is living in deception, and that deception is growing thicker and darker. All we have to do is view the nightly news.
But something that most may not see, is what is happening in the modern, western Church. It seems that every few months I hear of yet another deception that has infiltrated the Church. The list is still growing. I could tell you story after story about Christian churches promoting things like necromancy called “grave sucking” wherein people think they can obtain the anointing of a dead saint off of their grave, Ouija boards that they have aptly renamed “Angel Boards,” Tarot card reading that they have renamed “Destiny cards”, demonic manifestations being called manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the ecumenical movement luring well-known Christians into an unholy alliance with world religions, New Age/Hindu philosophy flooding Christian books, devotionals and pulpits, many false teachers teaching another Jesus (one who needed to be saved, was just a man, that Jesus’ darkest day was the day he was born, etc.) and that we are little gods, even little Christs and that Jesus showed us the way to be gods), while still other false teachers encourage their followers to pay for healing and other answers to prayer, as well as false prophets and witches moving into positions of influence within churches.
I never thought that I would see this day. I never thought that this is what Jesus meant. I never ever would have guessed that such deception would inundate the Body of Christ. But it is. Jesus and the Holy Spirit through Peter, Paul, Jude and John warned us of this mind numbing delusion that would sweep the Church and the world with madness in the last of the last days just before Christ’s return.
“The Holy Spirit doesn’t indicate how many will be pulled in this wrong direction, but the word “they” in the Greek language [of 2 Timothy 4:3] implies large numbers of people. According to Paul’s prophetic utterance, a portion of the last-days Christian community will simply no longer endure the sound teaching of Scripture. In fact, the word “endure” is the Greek word anecho, which denotes no ability to put up with or to have no tolerance for.” (Rick Renner, “Last Days Deception”)
The Big Question
You might ask, I know I do, why would God allow for this? 2 Peter 3 addresses this quite well if we will accept the answer. “9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Even so, in Hebrews 12 we read, “25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:29 For our God is a consuming fire.” Our God who is love in His sovereign purpose knows, and in this knowledge and great love is allowing a shaking in the Church and the world to test its quality and is still unwilling that any should perish.
We are in the last of the Last Days, and a great deception is spreading like an insidious cancer throughout the world and the Body of Christ. God is shaking the world and those called by His name, and is testing their quality right now. The antidote, the remedy, the medicine to heal us is this…
“This is why it is so important that we keep our minds soaked with the Word of God, which renews us to right thinking… It is imperative that we put the Word into our hearts — keeping it before our eyes and hearing it with our ears. It’s equally important to verbalize the truth of God’s Word to ourselves and to other believers, thus strengthening the truth in us and between us in a day when truth is slipping away.
Today I sense it’s my responsibility to ask you — what is your level of commitment to your Bible? Is it a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path (Psalm 119:105)? Is it the joy and rejoicing of your heart (Jeremiah 15:16)?
Rather than become victims of the age and spiritual casualties in the Body of Christ, we can hold our Bibles dearer and closer to our hearts and minds than ever before. We can reinforce ourselves against the days in which we live and the days that are forecast as yet to come. So let’s grab hold of the unalterable truths of God’s Word, dig our heels deep into it, and decide that we will stand firm on the truth that never changes, regardless of how society [and the Church] around us changes in the days to come!” (Renner, “Hoodwinked in the Last Days”). Second Timothy 3:13-17, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
“46. Subjunctive Mood,” https://ancientgreek.pressbooks.com/chapter/46/
“The Subjunctive Mood,” http://www.theology.edu/greek/gk24.htm
“Modern Greek Grammar,” https://www.greekgrammar.eu/pdffiles/subj.pdf
“The subjunctive of the simple present shows continuation or repetition. The action expressed by the verb is ongoing or repeated.”
“If-Then Phrases in the Greek Bible,” http://www.biblestudymanuals.net/if_then.htm
“Subjunctive (Ancient Greek),” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjunctive_(Ancient_Greek)
“(c) The potential subjunctive, usually without ἄν (án), is also used in subordinate clauses such as the following:
• Purpose clauses (“so that it can happen”)
• After verbs of fearing or doubt (“I fear it may happen”, “I doubt if it can happen”)
In a past time context either the subjunctive or the optative mood may be used in such sentences.
(d) Without an introductory verb, but preceded by μή (mḗ) “not”, the potential subjunctive can also be used for:
• Doubtful or emphatic assertions about the future (“it may be that..” or “it is certain that…”)”
“Greek Verbs (Shorter Definitions),” http://ntgreek.org/learn_nt_greek/verbs1.htm#SUBJUNCTIVE
(focus on the Subjunctive mood…
“The subjunctive mood indicates probability or objective possibility. The action of the verb will possibly happen, depending on certain objective factors or circumstances. It is oftentimes used in conditional statements (i.e. ‘If…then…’ clauses) or in purpose clauses. However if the subjunctive mood is used in a purpose or result clause, then the action should not be thought of as a possible result, but should be viewed as a definite outcome that will happen as a result of another stated action.”
“Greek Conditional Sentences,” http://ntgreek.org/learn_nt_greek/conditional_sentences.htm
“3361. Me,” https://biblehub.com/greek/3361.htm
(b. with the subjunctive aorist, of things which may occur immediately or very soon: preceded by an aorist…)
(Definition: not, that…not, lest (used for qualified negation)
Usage: not, lest.)
“646. Apostasia,” https://biblehub.com/greek/646.htm
(Definition: defection, revolt
Usage: defection, apostasy, revolt.)
(646 apostasía (from 868 /aphístēmi, “leave, depart,” which is derived from 575 /apó, “away from” and 2476 /histémi, “stand”) – properly, departure (implying desertion); apostasy – literally, “a leaving, from a previous standing.”)
From 868 aphistemi and related to 647 apostasion
“647. Apostasion,” https://biblehub.com/greek/647.htm
(Definition: a forsaking, (bill of) divorce
Usage: repudiation, divorce; met: bill of divorce.)
From 868 aphistemi
“868. Aphistemi,” https://biblehub.com/greek/868.htm
(Definition: to lead away, to depart from
Usage: I make to stand away, draw away, repel, take up a position away from, withdraw from, leave, abstain from.)
“What is the Day of the Lord?” https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=what+is+the+day+of+the+Lord%3f&view=detail&mid=47B38C667CFEC0F9731147B38C667CFEC0F97311&FORM=VIRE
(usually refer to a time of judgment and great trouble)
(a future time of God’s intervention on the earth at the end of the age) (not a day of the week, but of a specified period of time)