False Prophets: A Sign of the End Times
“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many,” states Jesus (Matthew 24) about the signs of the end times. I don’t think Jesus meant to exclude anyone who was false in their approach or motive regarding the things of God. Here He uses the word prophet, but I believe he includes in that word anyone who falsely represents Christ for their own self-interest, or on behalf of the interest of the devil. Here he also refers to anyone who is false in their motives, not only as a prophet but in any of the five-fold ministry office-gifts listed in Ephesians 4.
I think we tend to think of false prophets as people who are obvious in their self-deceived approach. For example, followers of Hare Krishna are obvious in their appearance. They used to flood airports dressed in their white gowns with their heads mostly shaven except for pony tails and these deceived-minions went about soliciting funds and handing out little fake flowers. They and those like them are obviously false, and we as Christians know not to fool with them.
But, I think Jesus meant something much more serious and sinister in his words. He said that many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. He starts out with the word “many” and ends it with the same. He is plainly telling us that many will be deceived. Most of us are not going to be easily deceived by an obvious Hare Krishna-type, so, let me tell you what I believe Jesus is talking about.
Deception is a powerful word, or at least it has a powerful meaning or concept. Deception is a powerful force. Definitely, deception is a big deal. The Bible uses it a lot. I would have to say that deception is the number one tool of Satan. He used it right at the beginning with Eve (Genesis 3:13, 2 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Timothy 2:14) and it has been so effective, he has effectively wielded this tool ever since.
Now, a deceived person will never admit they are deceived. You can look a deceived person in the eye and tell them flat out that they are deceived, and they will deny it. The ones who do come around to repentance, realize and admit they were deceived, just like Eve admitted when she said the serpent deceived her.
Deception is very slippery like that. It can sneak up on a person and bring them into this cloud or cloak of seeming blindness before they know it. The protection we have against deception is by remaining in close fellowship with God, and by guarding ourselves from the power of deception. Our fellowship with God is maintained by strengthening and protecting our relationship with Him through intimacy which only happens through prayer and Bible study. Bible study is key in this. You have to know the fundamental doctrines and know beyond anything and with absolute truth that those fundamental doctrines are never changing.
The fundamental doctrines that any Christina should have, believe, and hold true no matter what are: that Christ was born of a virgin and that he suffered and died on the cross in your place to take away your sin through his blood so that you could have everlasting life in him. You have to believe this and confess that Jesus died for your sins and you have to accept that salvation comes only through him and by only accepting him as Lord and Savior. Let me state once again, there is no other way to heaven except through Jesus. He said it himself here, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6)”
False prophets, evangelists, teachers, pastors, etc, will not confess this nor accept it. Usually they say there are many paths to God, or they will say something along the lines that all you have to do is be a good person the best you can and treat others right and you’ll make it to heaven. Sorry; it is good to be good and to treat others well, and God wants us to do that, but you cannot get to heaven, you cannot be a Christian, you cannot be born again unless you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and believe that he died and was raised again, that he shed his blood as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Look at what Peter said: "But 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 Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction" (2 Peter 2:1).
Look at what else Jesus said: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:14-16). Here He is saying that we will know them by their product, what comes out of them, what they stand for. We can look at that to determine whether or not we need to continue to associate with them. This is why it is so vitally important that we learn God’s Word. His Word is the measuring stick we can use to determine if someone is speaking error or the truth. You have to know the truth.
Jesus is warning us that we should avoid being deceived. I presented to you how to do so, but I have to tell you, deception is deceiving because it mixes just enough truth in it to trap people into believing the lie. This affirms yet another reason you need to know his Word.
Jesus said that many will be deceived. Many will be deceived. Many will be deceived. Do you get it? Tell me what is wrong with this, “He must be from God, or of God, because so many are following him.” I’m not going to hit you on the head with that one any longer.
There are some great and mighty “Christian” leaders out there influencing tens of thousands in their congregations, and even millions worldwide who are false teachers. Here is the rest of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
There is a phenomena in the mega-church movement that is alarming many of us who hold to the fundamental truths of Gods Word with all the strength and tenacity we can muster. This phenomena is called “seeker-friendly” or “seeker-sensitive.” Their philosophy for growth is to use a business and marketing approach that makes the church and its people more accepting, even to the point of compromising or hiding fundamental doctrine in order to draw these people into the church. I will probably upset some people, but I just have to lay it out—I strongly believe that this seeker-friendly phenomena is diluting the truth to the point that we have large churches full of people who might not have sound Biblical doctrine. This, I believe, results in large churches full of people who may not even have a personal relationship with Christ at the worst, and who may be weak and carnal in the least.
Jesus said the last days prior to the tribulation would be marked with deception and many false prophets deceiving many. I believe as we approach the last days, Satan will utilize his most powerful weapon of deception in greater ways. Using that tool of deception in the church makes perfect sense from a strategic perspective. Jesus warns not to be deceived, and we can avoid that by deepening our relationship with him and by spending quality and quantity time in the Bible, studying God’s Word.