The Holy Bible in its opening chapters narrates how the devil engineered the first deception in history. Deception is one of the basic traits of the devil. When we come to the final chapters of the Bible, we see the nature and style of the devil’s deception undergoing a big change, the reason being his knowledge that the time permitted for him is coming to an end. ‘Woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you, with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short’ (Rev 12:12).
The devil has great ambitions. ‘ I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High’ (Isa 14:13-14). Though his ambitions are great, he has only a short time to work for it. He is engaged in a fierce battle to capture as many souls as possible during this short period. The Church teaches us about the ultimate deception that we have to face in the end days, in relation to the Antichrist, who works for Satan.
‘The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh ( CCC 675)
Those who fall for this deception that is going to be unveiled before the second coming of Jesus Christ, will have to pay dearly for it. The price is nothing but apostasy, the act of rejecting true faith, which is essentially the rejection of Jesus Christ, who himself is truth. He has told us in plain words; ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’.
We should know that the greatest temptation of the end times will be the temptation to reject Christ. The master brain behind this strategy is Antichrist, who in turn is controlled by the devil, the author of all lies. John the Apostle sheds more light on their activities and their modus operandi. ‘Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and antichrist!’ (2 Jn:7).
We know a false prophet who appeared centuries after Jesus and claimed that Jesus was just another prophet like him and that Jesus was never the Son of God. We were warned sufficiently early about this deception. John writes; ‘They went out from us’ (1 Jn 2:19). It was a warning from the apostle that a time will come when evil forces will present Christ and everything he stood for upside down. We know that after a few centuries from this prophecy, this false teaching about Christ’s divinity spread across the globe, many times with the help of sword.
John continues: ‘Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son’ (1 Jn 2:22). See, how clearly the apostle gives us warning about the philosophy of the followers of Antichrist! The spirit that guides those who deny the divinity of Jesus, and the truth that Jesus is the Son of God is the same spirit that guides the antichrist. John has a few words of caution for us when such people approach us. ‘Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching (ie. true gospel)’ (2 Jn. 10).
But do we follow this wise advice from the apostle who was blessed to have the visions of future events leading upto the great day of the Lord? We welcome the sons of the antichrist into our houses and our institutions with open arms. Deception being part of their personality, they exploit our goodwill and generosity, and finally lay their hands on our children too. The sons of Antichrist use the supreme religious deception that ‘all is one’ to entice the children of God into denying Jesus Christ and to make them worship a false god created by a man for the fulfillment of his lustful desires and greed.
Let us be careful. Let us teach our children to be strong in belief. Those wolves, who work for the antichrist will appear in sheep’s clothing to deceive and trap the flock of God. Let us pray that none of our children value momentary pleasures above eternal bliss and act like ‘Esau, an immoral and godless person, who sold his birthright for a single meal’ (Heb 12:16). It is easy to renounce one’s right, but very difficult to regain it as it became clear in the case of Isaac’s elder son. ‘You know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, even though he sought the blessing with tears’ (Heb 12:17).
It is time to be vigilant against the ‘supreme religious deception’ that tempts us to forsake Jesus Christ, the fountain of living water, and dig cracked cisterns that can hold no water’ (cf. Jer 2:13).
Let us pray; ‘O Lord, give us the wisdom to discern the teachings of ‘false prophets, who come to us in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Help us to know them by their fruits. May all your children overcome his deception and reach the safe shores of eternal life. Amen.’l