By: Sylvia Reynolds-Blakely
Yes, strength and wisdom are His; deceivers and deceived are both in His power. Job 12:16 (NLT)
Let us talk of deceivers, shall we? There has been little mention of “antichrist” in modern churches when it comes to delineating those who follow Christ and those who do not. I am a product of the 70’s and 80’s, and I can remember my first time hearing that very scary term from the movie “The Omen.” In the movie, it was frightening to see a child as the embodiment of pure evil marked to oppose Christ. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been just as disturbed by the term but more aware that antichrist is not a child, but a spirit released upon ordinary people to deceive and therefore lie about the existence of Christ (2 John 1:7). According to St. John, in his first and second epistles, to be antichrist is to deny: (a) that Jesus is the Christ, (b) that Jesus is God’s son, (c) that Jesus will return, or (d) that Christ was God in the flesh (1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3, 2 John 1:7). Christ Himself said in Matthew 24 verses 4 and 5 (NIV) to “watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah’ and will deceive many.”
Why discuss the realities of antichrists and deceivers now? The spirit of antichrist has already been unleashed on the earth (1 John 2:18). I want the children of God, my brothers and sisters, to not only recognize that spirit when it appears to them, but also know what it means to live in deception. I've noticed an alarming number of Christian family members being deceived, and it grieves me greatly. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV) states: “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” The church is called to be discerning of false spirits. In Revelation, Christ praises the work of the church at Ephesus for their intolerance of wicked people. They were able to test those who claimed to be apostles but were not and found them false (Rev. 2:2).
Why can’t we recognize the deceivers when they appear? Often we are not hidden in Christ such that we have acquired His mind. When we abide in Christ and He is in us, we can see as He sees. In John 12:46 (NIV) Jesus tells us, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.” Christ listened for spiritual confirmation through prayer to our Father, and He knew the Scripture to be able to dispute all false teaching. Paul instructed the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 2:13 (NIV): “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” Because Holy Spirit, our Helper, lives on the inside of us forever, we have spiritual vision to see beyond the human darkness (John 14:16).
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah’ and will deceive many.” Matthew 24:4-5 (NIV)
Here are but a few of the ways to discern the spirit of the deceiver: First and foremost, antichrists do not fear God. This may seem obvious, but how else could they call themselves or even allow others to call them “Messiah” or “Savior?” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10 CSB). “Messiah” is not a title to toy with or throw out as a joke. Those who claim to be “Messiah” use a tool of deception (namely idol worship) meant to sway the hearts of the weak in Christ. It seems that while we await the real Messiah's coming, some are very quietly and impatiently building their own living “golden calf” whose every word they hang on, idolizing them as a “temporary” savior. When Jesus does return, we cannot say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets,” for Jesus will deny us, and we will be forced to depart from Him (Luke 13:26-27). We cannot be double minded and serve Christ (James 4:8).
The deceivers will ask you to pledge loyalty to them because they see themselves as worthy of the adoration due God. Jesus gave His allegiance to no man. He was aligned completely with the Father, and only God had His allegiance. Do not be tricked. Blessings, honor, dominion, and power all belong to God and Him alone. Even foreign kings recognized this (Daniel 4:34 NIV). EVERYTHING comes from God and flows to God, no other, and those who live in Christ know this because Christ lives in them and through them (1 Cor. 8:6 NLT).
Deceivers will tell you that they do not have to follow the teachings of Christ or the commandments of God because they are “exceptional.” And because they are ”exceptional,” they are not held to the same standards as other believers. Deceivers can taunt and mock God’s creation and His image bearers because they do not fear reprisal. Romans 8:7 (NIV) states: “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” The deceiver’s “exceptional” nature is flaunted repeatedly, but this is really a repudiation of the humility we are expected to walk in as Christ followers. Philippians 2:3 (NKJV) states: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
There will be no mistaking the spirit of those living antithetical to Christ because they will present themselves as opposing everything Christ stood for, fought for, ministered to, left instructions about, saved, preached to, loved on, spent energy on, healed, set apart, raised up, served, blessed, gave voice to, supported, strengthened, etc. Christ's attributes will not be found in antichrist. Hate, not love will be the overarching attribute of antichrist. He will reject being a servant. He will reject the foreigner. He will not advocate for the poor. He will store up his treasures here on earth. He would not, under any circumstance, lay down his life for a friend. He cannot love his enemies. What are Christ's commands? Again, antichrist will command you in the exact opposite direction that Christ is telling His followers to go. For believers who are mature, this ability to discern antichrist is essential in preserving their righteousness. The stakes are indeed high for those on the narrow path. Revelation 2:4-5 (NLT): “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among churches.”
Sisters and brothers, let us all examine our hearts in these perilous times and ask Holy Spirit to help us discern the antichrist among us. This isn’t a scary movie like “The Omen,” these are eternity decisions for some of us. Are we seeking God first and not the security and false authority of men? Can we honestly say that our reverence is for God and Him alone and not for men and women in high positions? God’s Word on this is cutting. Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT) says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes and He is the one to whom we are accountable” – says He who has the sharp two-edged sword (Rev. 2:12b). If you find that you have indeed strayed into the camp of antichrist, repent and pray to God to help you escape and show you the narrow path again. It can (and has) happened to every believer at one time or another, including (full disclosure) me.
I pray blessings over you as you earnestly seek His Face on this issue. Amen and Amen.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (NKJV)