See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty
deception , according to the tradition of men, according to the
elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
(Colossians 2:8 NASB)
(8) Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with
the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His
coming; (9) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity
of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, (10) and with all
the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not
receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (11) For this reason God
will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what
is false, (12) in order that they all may be judged who did not believe
the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 NASB)
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is
called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world…. (Revelation
12:9 NASB)
And it is deceiving those dwelling on the earth because of the signs
which were given to it to do in the sight of the wild beast…. (Revelation
13:14 NASB)
Perhaps I should not start an article in this manner, but I must state that I do not
present what follows as some deep spiritual or insightful truth. In some respects,
what follows should be so obvious to most discerning Christians that it should go
without saying. However, it is for this very reason that I have penned this rather
short article on deception.
As Christians who have an earnest of the spirit within us, we might think that there
is no way on earth that we could ever be deceived. After all, we have every
provision in Christ to keep us from falling into deception.
Dear brethren, it is because of this very attitude that I write these few words on the
matter of deception.
As a child of God, we face the danger of believing that we are under such iron-clad
divine protection that there is no way possible for us to fall for the deception and
lies of the enemy. This attitude in itself is a deception.
We need to be reminded of Paul’s exhortation to the saints in Corinth: Therefore
let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall (1
Corinthians 10:12 NASB). The sons of Israel figured that, since they were a chosen
people, they could get away with immorality and idolatry and God would look the
other way. Christians can do the very same thing in their abuse of grace. “I am
under grace; therefore, whatever I do God will look the other way.” This is not only
called deception but also licentiousness. Church history is filled with people who
fell into this trap and who attempted to lead others to follow.
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long
beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who
turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master
and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4 NASB)
The warning about being deceived is so obvious that we run the risk of entirely
missing the danger of it and getting pulled into the enemy’s web of lies without
knowing it, all the while thinking that we are on solid ground and in the right.
After all, the most effective deception is one that gets away with the deception
because it looks so real.
Deception looks real.
If you were an evil person and wanted to deceive people into accepting or following
you in some way, how would you go about doing so?
Let’s say the people are generally good people who shun outward forms of evil.
Would you put up a big billboard sign announcing you were about to deceive them,
telling them how you were going to do it? Would you advertise your plans in
newspapers or in books, or on television, or on the internet? “I am about to deceive
you so watch for me!” Would you tell them what evil you have in store for them?
Would you give them a roadmap, so to speak, of all your plans for them? Would
you give them plenty of time to analyze your plan so that they could fight back and
counter all that you plan for them? Of course, the answer to all these questions is
The best deception is one that looks so good and so real that it is hard to discern its
evilness. One effective way to deceive many people is to create a counterfeit, which
is “an imitation made to deceive,” or “a copy or a likeness.” A counterfeit is not the
real thing but a close copy. In order to deceive people, it must be as close to the
real thing as possible. In fact, it must be so close to the original that it is almost
impossible to discern the real from the copy or counterfeit. Only the most
discerning experts are able to distinguish the two.
One area that counterfeiting is an ongoing challenge to governments is the
counterfeiting of money. The United States faces this challenge every day,
especially in the counterfeiting of $100 bills. The counterfeiters have become so
sophisticated in recreating fraudulent bills that the government has been forced to
continually change the appearance and construction of the bills in order to stay
one step ahead of the crooks.
Deception in the church.
Unfortunately, there are many counterfeits in the church of our day. We know it is
so because we have been warned by ones who knew the dangers of the latter days.
As he neared the end of his life, Paul warned Timothy, his beloved son in the faith.
(1) But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away
from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of
demons , (2) by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own
conscience as with a branding iron…. (1 Timothy 4:1-2 NASB)
(1) But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. (2)
For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant,
revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) unloving,
irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of
good, (4) treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather
than lovers of God, (5) holding to a form of godliness, although they
have denied its power; avoid such men as these. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NASB)
Paul knew that the difficult times would come through the trickery of men and
their deceitful scheming or through what the Concordant Version calls the
systematizing of the deception .
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by
waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of
men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming [systematizing of the
deception]…. Ephesians 4:14 NASB [CV])
In other words, the deception would come through a system of doctrines.
The word system means “a set or arrangement of things so related or connected as
to form a unity or organic whole,” or “a set of facts, principles, rules, teachings,
doctrines, etc. classified or arranged in a regular, orderly form so as to show a
logical plan linking the various parts.”
For a deception to work, it must make sense to the ones it is trying to deceive, and
one way to do this is to make it as organized and logical as possible in order to try
to remove any doubt about its authenticity or correctness from the undiscerning
There is so much logic and order built into the deception that it makes people feel
that it is right. However, when one who has some spiritual discernment challenges
it that person is made to think it is he or she that is in the wrong and illogical, or
even worse, the person is told that God Himself is against the person and will
judge him or her for it.
By the way, one of the greatest systematized deceptions thrust on the Lord’s people
is the doctrine of hell as a torture chamber of literal fire. As I have stated
elsewhere, this comes straight out of pagan theology, and yet, it has become so
systematized into church doctrine that it has shaped church teaching on many
fronts. There is little doubt in my mind that many who hold to this evil doctrine are
also practicing an Old Covenant Christianity. But I challenge you to try convincing
ones who hold to such doctrines, and, most likely, you will be told that you are
going to hell. Strange, but true!
By the way, another term for the systematizing of the deception is the tradition of
men, something that both Jesus and Paul warned about.
“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of
men.” (Mark 7:8 NASB)
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty
deception, according to the tradition of men…. (Colossians 2:8 NASB)
Notice how empty deception comes out of the tradition of men . How much
tradition have many of us been led to believe by well-meaning teachers who
stopped growing in the Lord early in their teaching career? I cannot answer that
question definitively, but I suppose that there is far more of it than we realize.
Paul was not alone in his spiritual discernment, for Peter, at the end of his life, also
warned of false prophets and teachers.
(1) But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will
also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce
destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them,
bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (2) Many will follow their
sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
(3) and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their
judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
(2 Peter 2:1-3 NASB)
Notice that many will follow their sensuality, something that the kings and
merchants of the earth fall into as they are seduced by Babylon the great city, the
mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth (Revelation 17:5). But how
many of these kings and merchants consider themselves Christians?
Paul and Peter were not alone either, for both John and Jude warned of the
dangers that the church faced and continues to face from false prophets and
mockers in the last days.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether
they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the
world. (1 John 4:1 NASB)
(17) But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken
beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, (18) that they
were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following
after their own ungodly lusts.” (19) These are the ones who cause
divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. (Jude 1:17-19 NASB)
The take away from these verses is that deception is within the church of God, not
outside it, and many have fallen into deception through false teachers and
prophets, and this is one of the characteristics of the latter times or days.
If you are still not convinced, then consider what the Lord Jesus Himself has to say
to the church that is most prominent at the end of the age.
(14) “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the
faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says
this: (15) ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish
that you were cold or hot. (16) So because you are lukewarm, and
neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (17) Because you
say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,”
and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor
and blind and naked, (18) I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by
fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may
clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be
revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. (19)
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and
repent. (20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My
voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him,
and he with Me. (21) He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down
with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father
on His throne. (22) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit
says to the churches.’” (Revelation 3:14-22 NASB)
How do the Lord’s people come to be in such a sad state? The answer is discovered
in one word: deception. They have been deceived into believing a lie.
They are deceived, for they think they are something that they are not. Since they
have so much going for them and things have gone so well in the area of money
and outward success, they have falsely believed that it is all the Lord’s doing, when
all along He is outside of it all. Simply, He is in none of it and wants nothing to do
with it. The result is spiritual poverty, nakedness, and blindness. They are in great
need, and they do not know it because they have been deceived by the outward
success of their own actions that were never led by the spirit of God but by their
uncrucified flesh.
There is only one antidote for ones who have been deceived and that is to repent
and return to the Lord―loving Him with a whole heart and being obedient to His
Well, much could be said on this subject but that is not the purpose of this article,
which is simply to underline the danger and the reality of deception.
If Christians have been deceived from the pulpit within the church, then what
chance do they have of not being deceived from the pulpit of the world,
metaphorically speaking?
Or, to ask it another way: If Christians have not discerned the spirit of truth in the
church and tested the spirits, then how can they discern the spirit of the world,
even the spirit of antichrist? They cannot. But what makes matters worse is that
once the spirit of the world has taken charge of believers that same spirit enters
into the church. In our day, especially in America, it has done just that.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is
from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God….
(1 Corinthians 2:12 NASB)
Do we know the things freely given to us by God? Are we discerning in spirit the
things that are not of God? Do we feel defiled and soiled by the spirit of the world
when we are around it or it tries to overtake us?
(2) By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that
Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; (3) and every spirit that
does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the
antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is
already in the world. (1 John 4:2-3 NASB)
Dear brethren, this spirit of antichrist is all around us. I cannot speak for other
nations, but I can speak for my own nation. More and more, each day we see the
spirit of antichrist at work to further secularize, humanize (i.e., humanism with
man as the center of the universe), and globalize our once great country. At every
turn, there is a dark force at work that portrays a good theme but at its core is an
antichrist spirit that seeks to dethrone God as the Sovereign of creation and His
Son as the rightful heir of the earth. This spirit attempts to join all the religious
thoughts of man into one melting pot with man at the center of it all as his own
god. It is so pervasive today that anyone with the least of spiritual discernment
should see it in every aspect of the American life today. Our government is driven
by this spirit; our education system is driven by this spirit; and our very systems of
life are driven by this spirit.
We must wake up and buy from the Lord His gold refined in fire, which speaks of
His divine nature and His love, as well as His faith that is more precious than gold
(1 Peter 1:7). We need the faith of the Son of God in these days in order to press on
toward the goal for the prize and to reach the finish line that is coming into sharper
focus as each day passes. It won’t be long till the race is over! Have you bought His
gold? The righteous shall live by faith in the day that our world is ruled by the
Babylonians (Habakkuk 2:4) and is in captivity to this Babylonian system of
seduction and immorality (Revelation 18).
We need white garments, which speaks of the righteous acts of the saints. We are
righteous in Christ who has become our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30), but we
must also let His seed life grow within us and live out from us so that we practice
righteousness (1 John 3:7-9) in our dealings with one another and the world, even
our enemies.
Finally, we need eye salve so that we might see more clearly. We need spiritual
vision, not only of the things going on around us but also, and especially, of the
great goal that lies before us. We need the spirit of God to enlighten our hearts.
Paul’s prayer for the saints over 2,000 years ago is just as relevant today, perhaps
even more so as we near the end of the age.
(17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may
give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of
Him. (18) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that
you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the
glory of His inheritance in the saints, (19) and what is the surpassing
greatness of His power toward us who believe. (Ephesians 1:17-19 NASB)
We need to know Him, not in head knowledge but in heart love.
The dragon deceives the whole world.
Now, let us carry these thoughts to another level, specifically to the whole world
and its nations. Can the world and the nations be deceived? Will the whole world
be deceived, which includes all the nations? If so, who will deceive the whole
world, and how will it be done?
Well, those who know their Bible know that the answer lies with the one that
disguises itself as an angel of light. Please forgive me if this seems so obvious and
fundamental, but it is for this very reason that I believe we need to be reminded of
(13) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising
themselves as apostles of Christ. (14) No wonder, for even Satan
disguises himself as an angel of light . (15) Therefore it is not surprising
if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness,
whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NASB)
Again, a good deception is one that looks like the real thing. Satan could never
even have a chance of winning if it (not he ) appears as an angel of darkness and of
evil. Most religions, along with much of the world, would immediately stand
against it. After all, most of the world stood against Hitler to bring down his evil
empire, and there are many other examples in history where evil tyrants have been
But the word of God tells us that there is one that deceives the whole inhabited
earth. It is the tyrant and deceiver of all tyrants and deceivers.
And the great dragon was cast out, the ancient serpent called
Adversary and Satan, who is deceiving the whole inhabited earth. It
was cast into the earth, and its messengers were cast with it. (Revelation
12:9 CV)
Based on John’s vision, it is clear that this present evil age (Galatians 1:4
NASB) in which the whole world lies in the evil (1 John 5:19 LITV) is one of
deception in which the whole inhabited earth has been and continues to be
deceived. This deception will end for a long season when the kingdom of our Lord
and of His Christ begins to take root among the nations.
(2) And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil
and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; (3) and he threw him
into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not
deceive the nations any longer , until the thousand years were
completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
(Revelation 20:2-3 NASB)
However, even after a thousand years of being out from under deception and
seeing the true light, some nations will still be ripe for deception.
(7) When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released
from his prison, (8) and will come out to deceive the nations which are
in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them
together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the
seashore. (Revelation 20:7-8 NASB)
The point is this: The great fiery-red dragon is a great deceiver, and it must not be
underestimated in its ability and effectiveness to deceive. Simply, no one is
immune from its deception, for it deceives the whole world.
But how does it go about deceiving? It does so by producing something so close to
the real thing that many believe it is of God and not of the great dragon. They think
it is good when, in fact, evil lurks under the surface. They think it is a holy lump
when, in fact, it is leavened, and the leaven is causing it to rise until it reaches the
heavens. Once its true identity is known, it will be too late for the inhabitants of the
earth, including many Christians, to overcome to it.
The counterfeit of the great dragon is so real and effective that it brings the whole
world into bondage to its seduction system, and the whole world has no clue that it
is in bondage, in slavery to its seductive and immoral power. What is the best way
to bring people into bondage without them knowing it? Create something that
seems so real and so pleasurable and put God’s name on it! Think about it!
It is like attaching a rope to someone and, over time, ever so slowly pulling him
toward a precipice until finally he falls over the cliff. Or, using a very commonly
used analogy, it is like placing a live frog in a pot of water and ever so slowly
heating the water. The frog knows no other world than the space within the pot,
but this is okay to the frog because it is a comfortable pot. After all, the water is
warm. Come on in! However, over time, the frog gets so used to the warmth of the
water that it fails to realize the temperature is rising, until the water boils and it is
too late to jump out. All along, the frog was in bondage in the pot, but it never
knew it.
Ask yourself this question: If you wanted to deceive the world, would you do it by
infiltrating or leavening something, say a nation, a group of nations, or a
worldwide system of some sort, that is known for evil or one that is known for good
and is a benefit to a vast number of people? Would you infiltrate or leaven a nation
filled with Christians or one filled with pagans that are already in your camp?
Would you infiltrate or leaven a nation with biblical roots or one with non-biblical
Now, if you were the Adversary and Satan, which means that you are an adversary
of God and of His people, then where would you concentrate your deceptive works
in order to inflict the most harm? Again, would you go to a pagan place that has no
interest in the true living God or to one that proclaims that it is a place that trusts
God, even proclaims “In God We Trust”? Would you leave people to choose
whether they wanted to be in bondage, or would you bring them into it without
them knowing it?
What if the modern-day system of American life is a counterfeit to God’s way of
life? What if it is a seductive system that has made us its slaves and has led us as a
nation into many types of idolatry? Again, think about it! Better yet, pray about it!
I want to caution my fellow brethren living in America. There is a movement afoot
to restore America back to the principles of our founding fathers and to the roots of
our Christian heritage in order to combat the progressive movement that seeks to
transform America into a global, secular, socialist, and antichrist community. As
much as I personally dislike this latter movement, I cannot embrace the former
movement either.
Please see The Upward Call , issue #04-1049, May 11, 2010, Transform or
Refound America? ; and issue #04-1056, May 21, 2010, A Day of Deception: They
Believe What is False .
If I thought there were another 100 years for our present wicked eon [age] to run
its course, I would be in full agreement with the American restoration movement.
However, we do not have 100 years. I believe the countdown could be measured in
years before this world enters into its final trial called the wrath of God, and God’s
King takes the scepter of the kingdom of this world. The only question that
remains is where in this process and in what year the first resurrection and
transfiguration of the conquerors (overcomers [Revelation 2, 3]) will occur.
Please see article #17, January 2009, Snatched Away [The Rapture] , and The
Upward Call , issue #04-1010, January 22, 2010, Waiting for His Son from
Heaven .
The point is this: The great dragon needs a counterfeit of good and of light. The
only way to keep its deception going is to bring people into bondage to it without
them knowing it and, in a sense, enjoying it, and this is exactly what the great
dragon has done to the whole world.
How far have each of us who claim the name of the Lord fallen into this worldwide
deception? How much of our thinking is based on this deception? Individually we
need to seek the Lord for the answer.
Dear beloved in Christ, please heed this plea. We are in days of great deception
that will grow increasingly worse as the end of the age and the coming of the Lord
draws near. There is only one answer and only one reality―His name is
Jesus. There is only one solution and that is the kingdom of our Lord and of
our Christ . There is only one way to end this deceptive madness and that is with
the coming of Christ to take the reign over the nations of this world .
There is only one life that will have the wisdom and knowledge to lead the nations
and that is the immortal life of Christ manifested in and through the
conquerors, the first fruits of the sons of God .
Let us take up the prayer: Keep deception and lies far from me (Proverbs
30:8 NASB).
And, let us be ready to move out in the twinkling of an eye when the voice from
heaven, which I believe is the voice of our beloved Lord, commands: “Come out
of her, My people, that ye may not partake with her sins, and that ye
may not receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4 YLT).
Concordant Version
Literal Translation of the Holy Bible
Young’s Literal Translation
Article: #32, May 2010 (r#1)
by: Stuart Pouliot
New American Standard Bible