Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Deception is big business. The devil is the great deceiver. The Bible tells us that he is the father of lies. Every human being has been deceived by the devil. Many remain in that place until death. It is such a shame to be so convinced that wrong is right. It is important for us to know that we will never be able to use the excuse that we were deceived and therefore not responsible for our decisions.
God has provided all that is needed for us to be able to recognize deception and to reject it.
In verse 3 of our text we see that Jesus was not afraid to take questions. He did not run away from those who had real questions that needed answers. We see the love and care that Jesus had for His disciples in that He would sit down and teach them important truths. In the opening verses of this chapter, Jesus made some very bold and very concerning statements of fact that no doubt surprised the disciples. The temple was such a great and well known building. To declare that it was going to be utterly destroyed was quite the statement.
Jesus sat down at the mount of Olives to further teach His disciples some very important truths. This is why this is known as the Olivet Discourse. It took place as Jesus sat in that well known place. The Bible tells us that the disciples came to Him privately. They needed to know more details of what Jesus had told them in the opening verses. Even though they asked Him privately, their question was not secretive. Jesus answered them privately at that time, but He also had His Words recorded for every generation since that time. The questions the disciples asked were important for all of mankind. Most of the truths that Jesus gave them in this passage would not be fulfilled in their lifetime and they have not been fulfilled even in our lifetime.
The disciples desired three things of Jesus at this point. They wanted to know when the destruction of the Temple would take place. Secondly, they wanted to know what the sign of His coming would be and thirdly, they wanted to know the sign of the end of the world.
All of these are important questions. They are questions that people still want answers to today. People are looking at the current conflict in Europe and wondering if this is the end. Even though Jesus answered their questions, people are still very much in the dark regarding these things today. The reason many people are still in the dark on these things, is because they do not believe Jesus’ answers. They want something different.
Notice that Jesus began His answer to the disciples with a word of warning and a word of caution. The disciples had already been exposed to much deception. The Pharisees and their friends had been around for some time already. They were in the business of deceiving people. They chose deception for themselves and they wanted others to believe their lies. They took the parts of the Word of God that they liked and they spent hours developing false doctrines and false theology that would elevate them in the eyes of the Roman government as well as in the eyes of the nation of Israel. The priesthood was quite corrupt at the time of Jesus as well and that was a big problem. They were supposed to be teaching the people the Word of God. Most of them were corrupt and not walking in the fear of God. There were still a few faithful priests and those who wanted to know the truth could know it. One thing we see throughout the Bible and can see it today as well, is that the devil makes his lies easy to find. God’s truth is also readily available, but the sinful heart of man is drawn to lies. God is working to draw sinners to Himself, but the natural man is quite resistant to the truth.
Jesus was right in their midst at that time. He was approachable. He travelled to many places in Israel. The people knew where He was and many gathered around Him. He proved He was the Messiah with His many miracles and with His authoritative teaching. All who wanted to know could know the truth. Yet the danger was that of being deceived.
In verse 5 Jesus warned the disciples that “many shall come in my name.” These deceivers would claim to be speaking on behalf of Christ. Jesus also stated they would deceive many.
We are reminded over and over again of how gullible we as people are. We get an idea in our head and we look for someone who will support that idea. We look to see if there are others who will agree with our thoughts and we build on that idea. Those who refuse to submit to the absolute authority of God’s Word will be deceived. Someone told me just recently of a pastor who admitted to using other Bible versions besides the King James. That pastor is deceived. Why would a man who claims to be called of God seek counsel from anyone besides the true God? Why would a pastor claim that God is not capable of preserving His Word from this generation and for ever.
There are also men who claim to believe that the King James Bible is God’s Word for the English speaking world, but then they live a lie and demonstrate that they do not truly believe the Word of God. Jesus told the disciples that many would come in His name. They would all have their own spin, but they would claim to be speaking in Jesus’ name. Many false teachers come in Jesus’ name. They use His name. They reference His name in their teaching. However, they deny the power of God’s Word.
Any person who will not settle on the fact that God has preserved His Word from this generation and for ever, will be deceived. If we do not have an absolute truth, we will be led to believe a lie. We are not smart enough to protect ourselves from deception. We need something absolute to examine what we think and what we hear from others.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
The only way that we can keep from being deceived is first of all to be those “who are of the day.” We need to be saved. Saved people can be deceived when they live carelessly. Paul tells us to put on the breastplate of faith and love. We need to be protected from the wiles of the devil. Our hearts need to be in God’s hands. We need to be trusting fully in Him. We also need His love as our motivation and as our governor.
Police officers are learning more and more the importance of having a bullet-proof vest on. However, seldom do they wear a helmet. When they are dealing with a riot or when they want to make it look like they are dealing with a riot and unruly crowd they will dress in more protective gear. They used deception against the protestors in Ottawa a few weeks ago. They were told to approach those peaceful protestors with full gear on and even using horses as a means of moving those people out of there. They were ordered by the communist government to shut down any dissent, rather than realize that maybe the government was wrong.
The government is wrong because they have rejected God and His Word. They have determined that they know better than God does.
The saints are encouraged to protect the breast area but also the head. We need the helmet which is the hope of salvation. God’s salvation changes the perspective of the saved person. The child of God is saved, (receives eternal life at the moment of salvation), and also looks forward to that moment in time when they will be present with the Lord for all eternity. That is a real hope. Due to having that hope, the true child of God faces each day and each challenge with confidence in God and His Word. The true child of God must feed on God’s Word or he or she will be deceived. We have seen so many who have chosen to be careless with regard to church attendance. When I was a child, our church had a Sunday morning service, and a Sunday evening service and a Wednesday night Bible study. Our mother would take us to all of the services. Our father seldom attended the Wednesday night Bible study.
I was not saved at that time and the church was not teaching the truth either. The point is that since that time, that church and many others have a Sunday morning service and that is it. They might have a youth night at some point in the week, but those are just social events.
Jesus declared that He would build His church upon Himself. The book of Acts reveals that the apostles understood the importance of the true local church and the saved of that time also understood that. They got together daily to feed on God’s Word. That is how you keep from being deceived. Surfing the internet for this speaker and that speaker will not keep a person from deception. It will open them up to deception.
Jesus sat down and began to teach His disciples in our text with the very real danger of deception. He warned them that many would claim to be speaking in Jesus’ name. Jesus did not want His disciples to be deceived. He still does not want His disciples to be deceived today. We need to pay attention to what He says and follow Him.