Can the Elect Be Deceived?
When talking about end times and the events surrounding it, this is where the conversation often lands. It’s the question we always ask, because we fear it happening to us. And why is that? Is that a legitimate fear? As it stands, the deception lurking was the very first thing Christ warned His disciples about when they asked Him about the signs of the end. He said:
Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name…” (Matthew 24:4-5a, KJV).
And thus He begins His dissertation with a laundry list of “things that must come to pass” (see Matthew 24:6). But His warning is framed appropriately, with the understanding that it’s applicable for His own elect — and not in regard to whether or not it can really happen. So, the very reason people ask this question is because they forget to finish verse 5:
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many,” (Matthew 24:5, KJV, emphasis mine).
If it were not possible to deceive the elect, Christ’s warning would not be applicable to us as followers. But it is. We see it everywhere and with increasing frequency: believers who have been deceived. The deception at hand (and that which He speaks about) has a broad spectrum — from false teachers to false christs. It ranges from falling into temptation to joining Christian cults. And with that said, I will tell you, they are prominent and proliferating.
So, let’s talk about how this deception happens, because all of us need to understand the nature of our flesh and the antichrist spirit operating here (see 1 John 1-2).
Loving God & the Truth
Prior to Christ’s crucifixion He made a profound yet simple statement that many miss when it comes to spiritual warfare and personal sanctification:
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me,” (John 14:30, KJV, emphasis mine).
I want you to center on that statement for a moment… This is a ‘sel’ah’ moment.
Christ was not immune from temptation. He had many temptations — many more than we even know about. If you will recall, He affectionately tells His disciples:
Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations,” (Luke 22:28, KJV).
Yet we know Christ never sinned, but was tempted with all things even as we are. So how did He overcome? Let’s continue from John 14:30…
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence,” (John 14:31, KJV).
Christ was OBEDIENT. In other words, “Get up boys! Let’s go. I’ve got a job to finish.” He was ready to complete His assignment. Nothing’s stopping Him. And His obedience to His Father was motivated by the purest love for Him.
Christ spoke often of His love for His Father. It was avid and passionate. In fact, He did and said nothing except what the Father revealed to Him. They were one (see John 10:30). Christ was anointed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit (the seven Spirits of God) and He walked in the Holy Spirit perfectly. He fulfilled the will of His Father on earth as it was in heaven. And that is precisely what we are supposed to do as followers who continue His work. Christ made it clear that we are to love Him — and how we do that is by living a life of obedience in following Him daily. This is not about emotional hype. This is about taking up your cross. Following Christ is painful. It requires a personal crucifixion and death that is entirely contrary to our human nature, our modern culture, and our civilized world.
The apostles spoke of this day and age in which we are living. Here is a sampling of what they said:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth,” (1 Timothy 4:1-3, KJV).
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not,” (Jude 4-5, KJV).
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of,” (2 Peter 1:21 – 2:2, KJV).
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away… ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 & 7, KJV).
Why all the warnings? Were they for nothing?
I encourage you to read these texts in full. We see that those who are led astray are overcome by their flesh. This is where deception starts. In contrast to Christ, the prince of this world has plenty in them to work with. As a result, they are easy prey. It doesn’t take much to bait these individuals. They never came to a place of crucifixion. They never came to a place of laying down their lives. They refused the knowledge of the truth despite their learning. And when there is such carnality permitted in someone who professes Christ and claims to be a believer and follower of Him — that is deception at work. That is a false Gospel. That is a false Christ.
As we can readily see, the prophecies given by the apostles of these latter times are coming to pass very poignantly. In fact, they are prominently being fulfilled within many churches today. We see it everywhere. Ministers are giving them what they want because it lines their pocketbooks and fills their auditoriums. People are looking for the Gospel that will make them feel good — not a Christ who demands sacrifice, suffering, and servitude. No. They want to walk in their lusts and inherit the kingdom of God.
It’s not going to happen.
We must love the Truth. And here is what Paul says of unbelievers:
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, KJV).
Exemption & Immunity
Deception begins once you think you’re exempt or immune from it.
As we can see, the elect are not exempt or immune from deception at all. It’s all over the Book cover to cover. Christ and His apostles taught us to guard against it diligently. And they gave us many, many examples as well as prophecies by the Spirit of what our day would look like.
And they were right.
Their warnings are very apt. The elect who are chosen of God must guard against deception in all its forms. What we must realize is that deception does not begin with the enemy. It actually begins with the carnal nature — our flesh. Christ does not ask us to take up our cross and follow Him for nothing. This was Christianity 101 for the New Testament Church. Therefore, sanctification by Christ’s Spirit is imperative if we are going to guard against deception, because for those who permit themselves to walk in their flesh — they are already deceived. Christ is returning for an unblemished bride. The expected end for a true believer and follower of Christ is that we be found good, faithful, true, and wise stewards of all He’s entrusted to us. We should bear His reflection as we are ever being transformed into the image of God’s Son (see Romans 8:29).
In the words of Christ, the last thing anyone wants to hear is: “I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice iniquity,” (see Matthew 7:23). Yet we are told it will be spoken to many — who complained they did His work.
The greatest spiritual warfare you will ever endure is dying to self. With that said, Matthew 7:23 should not be confusing. Christ lived that example before us explicitly. He did not sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane because of the enemy. He sweat great drops of blood because He was being crucified. When He prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done,” His flesh was dying. He had already begun the grueling process of crucifixion. It was His finest hour. Christ’s greatest temptations were in overcoming His flesh — not the enemy. If you recall, the enemy for Christ was never a problem. He was very deft in handling Satan and his minions.
If you can overcome your flesh and be crucified with Christ, the enemy will have very little to work with. Crucifixion: that’s where the warfare came to a full head. We are told that He was made perfect in His sufferings (see Hebrews 2:10). He lived the crucified life and clearly demonstrated for us how to overcome. Christ’s obedience was motivated by His love for His Father and their oneness, which He was about to offer the entire world (see John 17).
The same rules apply for you and I (see John 15).
By default, your flesh will lead you astray from Christ — and you become very easy prey. All the enemy needs to do is bait you properly. You don’t have to try and make this happen. So, unless you are one who is committed to following Christ and living a crucified life that is marked by sanctification by His Holy Spirit, you are a target for deception — and you are very vulnerable to it.
So, can the elect be deceived? Yes. Absolutely. It is possible. It happens everyday, everywhere. Modern churches are glutted with deceived people.
But the good news is — you don’t have to be if you will heed the warnings intended for you. They apply to all believers. Why? Because the reality is you are not exempt or immune.
Follow Christ — not man. And certainly don’t follow your flesh.
Be a lover of God. Be a lover of His Truth. That translates to an obedient life. Don’t be ever-learning yet never coming to the knowledge of the truth (that would be known as deception).
Embrace the crucified life and pursue the sanctification of His Spirit.
Your goal is that you should be able to say with Christ, “The prince of this world cometh, but he has nothing in me.”
Cheers & Shalom,