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Deception by False Prophets and Teachers


Deception has caused people’s deviation from God, starting from the original sin of the first parents. Throughout history, there have been false teachers and prophets who misguided the people from God.

1. Satan deceived Eve into disobeying God and thus the first parents and all their progeny lost Paradise.

2. The story of the Golden Calf is another deviation from God under the misguidance of Aaron (Ex 32:1-6). When people noticed the long delay of Moses on Mount Sinai, they asked Aaron to make a god for them. Instead of asking people to wait, he made a golden calf and built an altar for its worship.

3. Satan approached Jesus after his forty days of fasting to misguide him from accomplishing his goal. The devil tempted Jesus even to worship him to gain “all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence” (Mt 4:8-9). However, Satan could not divert Jesus from his mission in the world.

4. When Jesus predicted his passion, death, and resurrection to the apostles at Caesarea Philippi, Satan discouraged Jesus from going through it through Peter. Jesus replied, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Mt 16:22-23).

5. Jesus called the Scribes and the Pharisees ‘blind guides’ (Mt 23:16). He addressed them in vehement words: “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of Heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entry to those trying to enter. Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves” (Mt 23:13-15). Jesus said about the Pharisees: “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit” (Mt 15:14).

6. Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus, resulting in the arrest of Jesus and followed by the suicide of Judas, was under the influence of Satan (Jn 13:27).

When the false prophets misguided the Israelites, God told Jeremiah, “These prophets utter lies in my name, … I did not send them; I gave them no command, nor did I speak to them. They prophesy to you lying visions, foolish divination, deceptions from their own imagination” (Jer 14:14). While the Israelites were in Babylonian exile, God spoke to Jeremiah: “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not be deceived by the prophets and diviners who are among you; do not listen to those among you who dream dreams, for they prophesy lies to you in my name; I did not send them—oracle of the LORD” (Jer 29:8-9).

When the Sanhedrin questioned the apostles, Gamaliel, a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin, and teacher of the law reminded about two false prophets, “Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered” (Acts 5:36-37).

When Philip preached in Samaria, Simon the magician “astounded the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. All of them, from the least to the greatest, paid attention to him, saying, ‘This man is the Power of God’ that is called ‘Great’” (Acts 8:9-10). Though he deceived many, he underwent a conversion later and received baptism along with other Samaritans (Acts 8:12-13).

Satan will tempt people to commit sin and will make use of people, even the chosen ones of Jesus, to misguide others to commit sin and to deviate from God. Jesus warned his followers during the sermon on the mountain: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves” (Mt 7:15). On another occasion, Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” (Mt 18:6-7).

When false preachers emerged with wrong teachings, Paul wrote, “But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed!” (Gal 1:7-8) Paul warned the Ephesians, “Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. So do not be associated with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth” (Eph 5:6-9).

Peter cautioned about false teachers in the ancient Church. “There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their licentious ways, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. In their greed they will exploit you with fabrications, but from of old their condemnation has not been idle and their destruction does not sleep” (2 Pet 2:1-3).

Because of people’s alarm on the return of Jesus, Paul wrote: “We ask you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a ‘spirit,’ or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things?” (2 Thes 2:1-5).


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