Monday, January 30 2023 - 7:03 PM

Sharing Scripture — December 10, 2022

End-Time Deceptions

 

For use: December 4 – 10, 2022
Texts: Matthew 7:21-27; John 11:40-44; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Samuel 28:3-25; Ephesians 6:10-18

 

It is a telling sign of our times that Merriam-Webster recently chose “gaslighting” (manipulating a person to doubt his or her sanity) as its word of the year. People of all political persuasions are wary of perceived deceptions in mass communication.

Gaslighting and deception are so pervasive that educational institutions now instruct students on how to detect fake news while conducting scholarly research. The University of Oregon lists several strategies to detect misleading information. They begin by defining the different levels of fake news, and the motives (financial or political) behind fake news purveyors. Most do not disseminate fake news exclusively, but will present a mix of fake news and accurate reporting.

One common type of deceptive information is clickbait. It will feature a titillating headline designed to lure people to their website or social media page. The information may or may not be accurate.

Another type is satire. Many satirical sites, such as The Onion, will identify that they are intentionally creating entertaining social commentary through humor.

Propaganda and conspiracy theory sites are the most egregious. They deliberately produce and disseminate deceptive content, intentionally misleading people for nefarious purposes.

The least reprehensible type of misleading information is simply mistakes in reporting. Mistakes do happen, and legitimate news agencies will often correct these mistakes when confronted with the accurate information.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, and especially our understanding of end-time events, Jesus specifically warns us “Watch out that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4). Many will come in Jesus’ name, claiming to be the Messiah. Some will even appeal to current events to prove their claims, but Jesus assures us that those are often just the natural order of life in a sinful world, and not to be alarmed by them (Matthew 24:4-8).

One of Satan’s most deceptive practices is to trick people through false beliefs regarding the state of the dead. People of all religious opinions are open to some understanding of life after death. Using that opening wedge, Satan uses devices such as near-death experiences, apparitions and dreams, and a common acceptance of ghosts and spirits of the dead to perpetuate the notion that our deceased loved ones intervene in our earthly affairs. That can open people up to his deceptions regarding Bible teachings—especially end-time events.

The best deterrent to avoid these deceptions is a proper understanding of the biblical topic of the state of humanity in death. Satan comes disguised as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), but Jesus leads us into all truth. When we focus on Jesus and cling to the biblical truth that death is an unconscious state until the resurrection, Satan can’t use those deceptions to fool us with fake news.

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: Do you screen your incoming phone calls? If so, how do you decide which ones to answer, which ones to let go to voicemail, and which ones to block?

Sharing: How do you understand the story of King Saul communicating with the ghost of Samuel in 1 Samuel 28:3-25?

  1. Satan impersonated Samuel to lead Saul into a death trap
  2. God temporarily raised Samuel from the dead to lead Saul to his death
  3. Saul was so convinced that Samuel would appear that he created the encounter through his own imagination
  4. Samuel really is a disembodied spirit roaming the earth
  5. This is one of those baffling Bible stories that I won’t understand until I can ask Jesus to explain it personally
  6. Other:

Applying: How concerned are you about the proliferation of fake news these days? Do you feel you have a good set of filters to discern and discard false information? Consider pairing up with a friend and see how each other does spotting the fake information.

Valuing: Are you confident in your understanding about the Bible teachings on the afterlife? Take time in the next few days to review the key Bible texts on the topic.

 

~Chuck Burkeen

 

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