…Take heed that no man deceive you.
— Matthew 24:4
For those who have a listening ear to the Spirit of God, it is clear that we have entered into the very last part of the last days. As a result, recent decades have brought us face to face with difficult issues, whether we wanted to be confronted with them or not. According to Bible prophecy, things are only going to get more intense as the days pass, because we are living at the end of the age when Jesus, Paul, and Peter all prophesied that society as a whole would be deceived on a massive scale.
Jesus’ disciples had specifically asked Him, “…What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). In response to that specific question, Jesus identified a list of exact signs that would indicate the very end of the age and His imminent return. Jesus gave many signs, but the first sign Jesus told them about contained a clear warning of a wide-scale deception that would emerge in the last part of the last days — and the need for people to prepare and guard against it. Jesus said, “…Take heed that no man deceive you” (v. 4).
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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 attempt to encompass every part of society.
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. It is the Greek word planao, which 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.
Planao 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. He has begun going cross-grain against all that was once a part of his belief system.
In the years that lapsed between the Old and New Testaments, this same word “deceive” was often used to forecast a wide-scale deception that would one day envelope the earth. It was believed by scholars of that time that this deception would be a precursor to the glorious coming of the Messiah. Furthermore, it was widely held that a deception of this order could occur only as a result of the activity of evil spirits that would work intensely in the earth at the very end of the age. Scholars believed these dark powers would lead the world into deception en masse.
The apostle Paul also confirmed this long-forecasted deception. In Second Thessalonians 2, he described distinct events that would occur on the planet at the very end of the age and continue with greater aggression and intensity. He stated that the world’s population would become so ensnared in deception that they would be controlled by a strong “delusion” (v. 11). The word “delusion” in Greek is plane, a form of planao, the same word used in Matthew 24:4. However, in Second Thessalonians 2:11, the Greek word was translated “delusion” instead of “deception.” But the word planao nonetheless depicts a culture that has strayed so far that it has become beguiled, bewitched, duped, and seduced into believing a lie in place of the truth.
In Second Thessalonians 2:11, the Holy Spirit prophesied through Paul that society in the last days will become supernaturally hoodwinked — that is, it will be ensnared by an unparalleled period of deception on every front. This period of deceitfulness will be so intense that people will believe what is false over what is obviously true, even denying facts and truths that are common sense and that nature itself teaches (see Romans 1:20). This era of worldwide falsehood and deception will occur at the very end of this age and will continue into the time of the Great Tribulation. It will mark a time when wrong belief and delusion will pervade every realm of society. This is the clear teaching of prophetic Scripture about developments that will occur at the conclusion of this age.
Just look at the world around you today. Can you see deception at work? Watch the developments in the news. In a culture where moral standards bend so easily with the times, can you sense we have reached the tipping point where many are being deceived even now, not only in the United States, but also around the globe?
In Matthew 24:4, Jesus accurately foretold this worldwide deception on the earth in the last days and alerted His disciples that it would be a sign that His return was nigh. As we come closer and closer to the very last days of this age, we need to remember Christ’s forewarning of a season in time in which deception would grip the entire world. From all the signs around us, it appears that we are already there.
This is why it is so important that we keep our minds soaked with the Word of God, which renews us to right thinking in a world that has morally slipped in a wrong direction. 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 around us changes in the days to come!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I see that the world is slipping into falsehood and delusion on so many fronts, just as You said it would in Matthew 24:4,5. Long-held moral truths are being reconsidered and changed; truths of the Bible are being discounted and laid aside; and it seems that this process is occurring at a faster and faster pace as we come to the close of this age. I ask You to give me the inner courage to stand fast on the Word of God — to embrace it, dig my heels into it, and not sway from the unalterable truths of Scripture, even if the world around me is slipping away from it. Help me to embrace the Bible tighter than ever before and to keep my thoughts in agreement with Your will, regardless of what is happening in the world around me.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I declare that I am committed to the eternal, unchangeable truths of God’s Word, regardless of what is happening in society all around me. The world may change what it believes and endorses, but not one word of God’s truth ever changes. I declare that I will wrap my arms around the Word of God, embrace it, and dig my heels into it. I will never surrender my conviction to the truths of the Bible. Holy Spirit, I need Your power and inner fortitude to do this, so I am asking You to reinforce me, along with my other close Christian friends, so we stand by the truth and refuse to be bullied into lowering our standards of believing the deception that is at work in the world in these last days!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you know any believers who have slipped from their firm commitment to the eternal truths taught by the Bible? What has been your response to this slipping away? Have you prayed for them? Have you lovingly spoken to them about the direction they are taking?
- Can you think of ways that the moral foundation in the world is changing — and how society is trying to push these changing morals on everyone? What would be one example that stands out in your mind?
- What is your personal response to all of this? This is a question that you will definitely have to face in the days to come, so what is your answer right now? Are you going to be bullied or hoodwinked to change your view along with the rest of the world, or are you going to stand on the truth that never changes?