The Bible warns believers about a coming time of great deception that will occur before the return of Jesus Christ. This deception is mentioned specifically in connection with the end times, the tribulation, and the rise of the Antichrist. As followers of Christ, it is critical that we understand what this deception is, how it will happen, and how we can avoid being deceived.
- The Bible, especially in Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2, and Revelation 13, warns of an unparalleled time of deception orchestrated by Satan and the Antichrist during the end times.
- This deception will be so great that even God’s elect would be deceived if it were possible. Its scale and severity are unique.
- The primary means of this deception will be through powerful signs, wonders, and miracles performed by the Antichrist and False Prophet.
- This deception will be targeted at unbelievers and those who do not love the truth. Those who reject God’s salvation through Christ will wholeheartedly embrace this deception.
- As followers of Christ, we must be on guard, hold fast to God’s Word, test all spirits, and not be naive about the schemes of the devil. Walking closely with Jesus is our best protection.
What Does the Bible Say About This Great Deception?
The most definitive passages about the unparalleled end time deception orchestrated by Satan are found in Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2, and Revelation 13. Jesus and Paul specifically warn believers about this deception that will precede Christ’s return.
Matthew 24 Warnings from Jesus
In Matthew 24:4-5, Jesus began His Olivet Discourse by warning the disciples:
“Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (NKJV)
He continued on in verses 10-13:
“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
Jesus explicitly states that the prevalence of deception through false christs and false prophets will be a hallmark of the end times. Many will be deceived.
But the most ominous warning from Jesus comes in Matthew 24:24 where He says:
“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
This is an extremely sobering statement. Jesus says that these false messiahs and prophets will perform such spectacular miraculous signs that if it were possible, even God’s chosen ones, the elect, could be deceived by them. This is unparalleled deception.
2 Thessalonians 2 Warnings from Paul
The Apostle Paul also writes extensively about the coming apostasy, the man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) and his deceptive workings in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.
In verse 9, Paul specifically states:
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.”
The Antichrist will come with a powerful deception accompanied by remarkable displays of power, signs, and miracles made possible by Satan himself.
In verse 10, Paul makes it clear who will be most susceptible to this deception:
“and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
Unbelievers who have rejected God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ will eagerly buy into this deception. The phrase “did not receive the love of the truth” implies willing and intentional rejection of God’s truth.
Because they have turned their backs on God, He will then send them “strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). God will allow the unrighteous to be deceived by the Antichrist’s miracles because they chose again and again not to believe the gospel.
Revelation 13 Points to the False Prophet
Revelation 13 provides more details about the deception carried out by the False Prophet on behalf of the Antichrist.
Of the False Prophet, Revelation 13:13-14 says:
“He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.”
The False Prophet will deceive the world through breathtaking displays of power, including calling down fire from heaven. These signs will cause the world to worship the Antichrist and his image.
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the period preceding Christ’s return will be marked by unparalleled mass deception empowered by Satan and carried out through the Antichrist and the False Prophet.
Their deceptive signs and wonders will captivate the world and cause many to fall away from the faith. This is the Great Deception foretold in Scripture.
How Will This Deception Be Possible?
Such widespread deception on a global scale seems difficult to fathom. How could miracles and signs deceive so many? Why would God allow this?
Here are some key factors that will make this Great Deception possible:
1. Society’s Rejection of Biblical Truth
For multiple generations now, society has been moving progressively further and further away from the foundation of God’s Word. Moral relativism, secularism, religious pluralism, and every form of error have been embraced while biblical truth has been rejected. Consequently, the coming deception will find very fertile soil as people’s anchors to God’s truth have been severed. Thessalonians 2:10-12 indicates that those who do not love God’s truth will gladly embrace the enemy’s lies.
2. Spectacular Displays of Signs and Wonders
Satan is restricted in his supernatural power. But in the end times, God will allow Satan to operate without restraint through the Antichrist and False Prophet. Their spectacular miracles and signs will resonate with a biblically illiterate world ripe for deception. These impressive wonders will validate the Antichrist’s claims of divine authority.
3. Humanity’s Fascination with Power
Miraculous displays of power and authority have always dazzled humanity. People are quick to follow anyone who performs wonders, assuming they must be from God. Yet the Bible forewarns that the Antichrist’s deceiving signs will be so profound that without discernment, even believers could be led astray. His miracles will likely incorporate advanced technology, illusion, and demonic forces to achieve maximum impact.
4. Rejection of God’s Salvation through Jesus Christ
Jesus made it clear that the Great Deception to come would be so powerful that, if it were possible, even God’s elect could be deceived. But true born again believers cannot be deceived into rejecting Christ due to the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The only ones who can fall prey to this unparalleled deception are those who have already chosen to reject the gospel of Christ. God will then use this deception as part of His judgment upon their unbelief.
How Can Followers of Christ Avoid Being Deceived?
If even God’s elect would be deceived if possible, then how can Christians avoid being sucked into this Great Deception? Here are some key safeguards believers need to apply:
- Be rooted in God’s Word – Only Scripture equips us to discern truth from error. We must test every teaching against the Bible to detect deceit.
- Walk closely with Jesus – Staying near to Christ every day is our lifeline. The Holy Spirit will lead us into truth and expose deception.
- Maintain a teachable heart – Pride and stubbornness leave us vulnerable. We need humility to accept correction from God’s Word and godly counsel.
- Pray for wisdom and discernment – Ask God to protect you from deception and equip you to reject falsehood and lies.
- Avoid sensationalism and spectacle – Grand displays and hype do not equate to truth. Focus on Jesus, not flashy signs and wonders.
- Test the spirits – Carefully examine the source behind every teaching. True doctrine glorifies Christ alone.
- Don’t be naive – Simply assuming something is true leaves us open to deception. Carefully investigate according to Scripture.
- Watch for doctrinal red flags – Errors like denying Christ’s deity or humanity signal deception. Flee from false teachings.
- Rely on the Holy Spirit’s power – His presence in believers is greater than Satan. Stay filled with and sensitive to the Spirit.
As the world moves toward the climax of the age, we must stay vigilant against increasingly deceptive schemes of the enemy. Our best defense is an intimate walk with Jesus Christ and total obedience to God’s eternal Word.
Indications the Great Deception is Unfolding
How will we recognize the early signs of this Great Deception beginning to overtake the world in the run up to the tribulation period? Here are some signs to watch for:
- Exponential increase in false christs and occult teachings
- Rising Christian apostasy and rejection of sound doctrine
- Proliferation of mystical New Age philosophies in the world and church
- Increasing fusion of Christianity with other faiths and belief systems
- Culture’s embrace of images, icons, symbols and statues for veneration
- Surging interest in and reported sightings of supernatural entities like UFOs
- Advances in technology that mimic miraculous capabilities
- Growing admiration of leaders who appear to exhibit supernatural power
- Accelerating marginalization and repression of biblical Christianity
As followers of Jesus Christ, we must live with a sense of expectant urgency as the Day of the Lord draws near. We are called to expose falsehood, herald the truth, snatch the lost from the fire, and take our stand for Christ no matter what the cost.
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! The days are hastening toward the final trumpet and our redemption into glory. Even so, come Lord Jesus!