Dear Dr. Brown,
I received a list of questions that a contact in my home church wrote down. He has been raised Roman Catholic and doesn’t know much, if anything, about the Wesleyan-Arminian persuasion. If you have time, could you please answer some of these questions? I have written down the one’s I am unsure of. So…if you could, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Your friend asked the question, “How does one avoid being deceived by false prophets, as it says in Matt. 24:4, 5?”
Jesus answers this question in Matt. 24:27, “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (NASB). Anyone who claims to be Christ (24:5) or says they know where He is on earth (24:23, 26), even if that person does miraculous things (24:25), is a false prophet. When Christ comes again in power, the whole world will know it (24:27, 30), because it will be sudden and obvious like lightning.
Let’s broaden the question just a bit and ask How can we avoid being deceived by the enemy of our souls? The devil deceived Eve into thinking that it was not wrong to eat the forbidden fruit. As a result, she sinned, thinking that she was not sinning (1 Tim. 2:14). Paul indicates that it is possible for us to be deceived like Eve was and expresses his concern over this in 2 Cor. 11:3, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (NASB).
There are two keys to avoiding deception. First, you must know God’s word. If you do not know what God has said, you are susceptible to being deceived. Jesus gives the second key in John 7:17 where He tells the Jews, “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”
In other words, Jesus is saying that only if the Jews were willing to do God’s will would they be able to discern whether what Jesus taught was the truth and not a lie. This principle applies to us as well. If we want to know whether something is truly from God or not, we must first be willing to do His will.
We can know that we are willing to do His will if we are currently doing all that God has asked us to do. If we are not walking in all the light that God has already given us, then we are obviously not really willing to do His will. That is a fearful position to be in, for it opens us up to the enemy’s deception.
Stay immersed in the word and walk in all the light God gives you, and you won’t have to worry about being deceived.