Nearing Midnight: How Not to Be Deceived

Nearing Midnight: How Not to Be Deceived – Todd Strandberg –

There isn’t a more important decision in life than to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life. We were all born into sin, and nothing but the blood of the Lamb of God can save us from damnation. Sadly, most people will die lost because they were deceived into rejecting a relationship with God.

The Bible contains many warnings against being deceived. “Let no man deceive himself” (1 Cor. 3:18). “Be not deceived,” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33. Paul also warned the Galatians, “Be not deceived” (Gal. 6:7). The epistle to the Hebrews offers yet another warning about deceit: “But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13).

We need to be on guard because the devil’s favorite trick is convincing people they are saved when they really are not. In America, polls show that around 85 percent of the population claims to be a member of the Christian faith. These same polls find that only about 20 percent of them have had a born-again experience. In Europe, the disparity is even greater.

I get constant reminders about deception by operating a top-rated site on the Rapture. Every few days I receive a letter or an email warning that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is a lie from the devil, and I need to repent before it’s too late. The position these critics take are not new or original attempts to discredit the truth of the Pre-Trib Rapture. After 28 years of operation, I’ve heard every end-time argument a thousand different ways.

The attacks from these people only help to strengthen my Pre-Trib view. Most of them have no Scripture to back up their claims. Their opinions of my supposed deception are simply the result of their own confused and misguided beliefs.

The problem of deception became clear to me when I was recently looking though my old cassette tape collection. I noticed that many of the teaching tapes were from people whom I later found to have major flaws in their doctrinal beliefs.

One name that stands out is Hobart Freeman. He was part of the Word of Faith Movement before it became fixated on money. Freeman was a very good teacher. Most of the tapes I have from him are about cults. One of his messages was on the subject, “How Not to Be Deceived.”

The ministry that Freeman ran was small, and I had lost track of him. It surprised me greatly when 30 years later I looked him up on the Web and found a Wikipedia link that showed he should have taken his own advice on avoiding deception.

Freeman held to the view that modern medicine was an extension of ancient witchcraft and black magic, so he told people to quit taking their medicine. Over 90 people died in his church and untold hundreds suffered death or complications from listening to his messages on tape or radio.

In 1984, Freeman was charged with negligent homicide but his day in court never came. Two weeks before the trial date, Freeman became a victim his own teaching when he died from congestive heart failure complicated by an ulcerated gangrenous leg.

The vast majority of examples of deception can be boiled down to one common problem: People coming up with their own reality rather than using the one God has provided for us. Free will allows us to make decisions, but it doesn’t give us the ability to determine truth. The Bible warns that Man is incapable of telling right from wrong:

“There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12).

One sin nature is the key reason why we can’t trust our own judgment. The role of the devil as the great deceiver of nations is an even bigger reason why we need to turn to the Bible for all moral guidance. Satan’s ability to whisper into the ears of mankind explains why “truth” now comes in so many varieties.

I am very wary of any teacher that has the habit of being an endless source of new biblical revelations. They are the ones who constantly find hidden messages in every verse of the Bible. Unless you are a baby Christian, you should already be familiar with most Church doctrines. Any truth that needs to be coached out of Scripture by someone, was never there in the first place.

Christians should not just be mental sponges soaking in every teaching that sounds appealing. We should be like the Bereans of Acts. When Paul and Silas shared the gospel, the Bereans didn’t merely take them at their word-they searched through Old Testament Scripture to make sure what they were hearing lined up with God’s Word.

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).

Deceivers are now at an all-time high. This is the worst time for anyone to be relying on the so-called wisdom offered by the world. We’re not even at the point yet of seeing the prophesied demonically inspired “signs and wonders.” And yet the vast majority of the world is already deceived. To stay clear of deception, we need to place all our trust in the Bible.

“For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24).