Elsewhere in Mark 13:6-7, Jesus told His disciples, “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.” Now if you’re like me the idea of being deceived by someone attempting to take the place of Jesus…claiming to be His counterpart yet actually being His antithesis is hard to imagine. But yet Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.” And according to I John 2:18 they exist and are among us right now, for it reads, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many Antichrists have come…” So how can we heed this warning from Jesus not to be deceived? The first thing is to know the truth…the Word of God, so when we hear lies or warped, twisted truths we will recognize them immediately. The other is to listen carefully… “If there is denial that Jesus is the Christ from such a man, he is the Antichrist – for he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; for whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (I John 2:22-23)
It was not unusual for God to speak to Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel… by beginning His warning with, ” Stand up and speak to the people.” That’s what the job of the watchmen was all about…to keep guard and then to lift their voices when danger approached. Fast forward to today. As a follower of Christ, do you realize you too are a watchman to this broken world? The Lord has called you to stand up and speak to the lost, warning them of the impending danger if they continue to ignore Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation.
Isaiah gives a vivid picture of this knowledge of the Lord in Chapter 11, verse 9 when he says, “For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” All mankind has the opportunity to experience the Lord in a personal way…to have intimate fellowship with the Creator of the universe. For you can be “told” about God all your life, but it’s not until you fully grasp what Jesus did for you on that Cross…dying so you may live…that you can really “know” Him. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
Our walk with the Lord is a process…a long, sometimes difficult passage, from what we once were, to what we are becoming. But what happens many times, we end up feeling stuck in the middle of our old and new self. So that’s when it’s time to take inventory. Turn around and take a critical view of your old self…not a pretty picture, right? Now, ponder where your life is today with the Lord’s help. It’s nothing short of a miracle in how you have grown in the knowledge of God…and with that knowledge, how you have been changed. None of us will every be able to say, “I’ve arrived!” when it comes to the full knowledge of God…but as long as we continually strive for more of Him in our lives…we’ll be making headway.
Admitting we’re wrong and asking forgiveness is hard to do. And when it comes to acknowledging our sin before God it gets even tougher. It’s not that we’re deliberately rebelling against Him…of blatantly and conspicuously sinning for all to see. No, it’s rather sins by omission that really mess us up. These are secret sins that are easy to hide…things that only we may know about. These sins of omission are things neglected and left undone in our lives…like regular time in the Word, or prayer. Or they’re things we chose to turn a blind eye to…knowing the Lord wants us to act, but choosing to be apathetic instead. These sins of omission are disobedience at its best and need to be dealt with, for as time goes on, it becomes easier and easier to allow these sins to hide in our sub-conscience and justify them rather than admit they are wrong.
The Apostle John was warning of false teachers infiltrating the early Church with their deceptive ideas…for they were denying the key fundamentals of Christianity…that Jesus Christ came to earth taking on human flesh – that He was all man and all God. He also warned of their denial of the resurrection – that Jesus was crucified, buried, but rose to life on the third day. So why should we be so surprised today when we hear preaching that just don’t sit well with us. Those same false teachers are alive and well and preaching a “type” of Jesus to the masses. But this corrupted concept of Jesus isn’t true, and doesn’t line up with the Word of God. And if we’d look at the many religions around the world, we’d see many that deny Jesus and His deity all together. But as John explains…the litmus test is simple. Test everything you hear against the Word of God… evaluate for yourself to determine the truth… Listen carefully to the Holy Spirit within.