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False Miracles In The End Times

by John Edmiston

(2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 NKJV) And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. {9} The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, {10} and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. {11} And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, {12} that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Satan is a great counterfeiter. He devises false teachers and false prophets (2 Peter 2:1) , false apostles with false gospels (2 Cor 11:1-15) and false miracles (2 Thess 2:9). In the end times these will combine into a powerful deception that will even seem to threaten the existence of the church itself. Scripture states seven times that false miracles will mislead many (Matthew 7:21-23, 24:24, Mark 13:22, 2 Thess 2:8-12, Rev 13:13,14, 16:14,19:20) and it seems that this will involve a large section of the world's population (the Greek word for many has the connotations of a majority). Those deceived will believe that they are serving God in the name of Jesus when in fact they are "workers of iniquity".

This article is aimed to help make you aware of that deception. It is not an article against miracles, or against Charismatics. It may seem that way and some may choose to use it that way. However let me state that I believe that God does far more miracles than the Devil. True miracles are in the majority. This is an article calling God's people to exercise discernment in the last days. Take it that way and you will be reading it aright.

An Artist's Impression (based on the Scriptures)

Here is a "artists impression" of what I believe this final deception will be like. It will be breathtakingly spectacular with great wonders happening. Fire will fall from heaven to earth on command. People will be spectacularly and genuinely healed. There will be triumph over the forces of nature and a sense that a new "magical realm" has arrived on earth. It will appear to be a wonder-full breakthrough into the instant and easy life. Many people will talk of Utopia being realized and world peace a certainty. The Beast, an apparently benign dictator will appear to be both militarily and spiritually invulnerable. There will be a centralized rule of law on earth under him. The slogan will be something like "Peace through strength" ... "and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" (Rev 13:4) The world will sparkle with magic and dazzle the senses. God and Christianity will seem strangely irrelevant, morals as things of the past.

The promise of instant gratification will over-ride everything and people will wonder and be in awe of this marvelous new age, its "promise" and its "freedom". It will suddenly feel OK to be selfish and wonderful to take part in magic. A false prophet will emerge who will at first appear to be saintly, lamb-like, and meek.. "He had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon." (Rev 13:11) He will win the trust of many. When all the world is convinced then he will lead them into worshiping the image of the Beast. People will follow first of all because of the cunning promises, then because of the great signs he performs and lastly out of the sheer power of economic compulsion. Then as blasphemy increases and Christians are persecuted God's judgments will be poured out on the Earth and the "magical kingdom" shown to be a powerless sham. Few will repent. Most will try harder in their magic and harden in their rebellion until on one day they all assemble at a place called Armageddon to do battle with God - and lose.

Now I will go from the picture to consider each of the seven main verses it is based upon they are:
Matthew 7:21-23
Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22
2 Thess 2:8-12
Rev 13:13,14, 16:14 and ,19:20

The Day of Judgment (Matthew 7)

(Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV) "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. {22} "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' {23} "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

The word for many in verse 22 is "pollous" 4183. polus, pol-oos'; includ. the forms from the alt. pollos; (sing.) much (in any respect) or (plur.) many; neut. (sing.) as adv. largely; neut. (plur.) as adv. or noun often, mostly, largely:--abundant, + altogether, common, + far (passed, spent), (+ be of a) great (age, deal, -ly, while), long, many, much, oft (-en [-times]), plenteous, sore, straitly. Comp. G4118, G4119. (From Strong's Hebrew Greek Dictionary)

And the word for iniquity or lawlessness in verse 23 is "anomia" 458. anomia, an-om-ee'-ah; from G459; illegality, i.e. violation of law or (gen.) wickedness:--iniquity, X transgression of) the law, unrighteousness.

On "that day", the Day of Judgment, Jesus Himself (v23) will tell- a large number, possibly even a majority, who call Him Lord, that they are "workers of lawlessness"! They will be people who use His name and work miracles, prophesying, casting out demons and doing many wonders. But they will be guilty of " anomia" the utter disregard for God's standards. This is sobering. It is a natural assumption that if we are doing miracles in the name of Jesus we are in God's will .. Jesus, Paul and the apostles all did miracles and these miracles were good and advanced the Kingdom of God. The fault does not lie with miracles but with the heart of those who performed them. Perhaps these rejected people have evil hearts full of envy, pride and boastfulness. They certainly have scant regard for true holiness and a God-disciplined life. They seem to be "Christian magicians" using the name and power of God divorced from the character, will and purposes of God.

The Deception of The Church (Matt 24, Mark 13, )

The next two almost identical verses concentrate on the end-times deception of the Church:

(Matthew 24:24 NRSV) For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

(Mark 13:22 NRSV) False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

Sectarian leaders posing as "messiahs" and "prophets" and working powerful miracles ("great signs and omens") will attempt to lead astray everyone, including even the people of God. However God has chosen those who will be His and though imperiled there is the implication that they will also be preserved. These signs will be powerful enough to deceive all believers unless God Himself preserves them.

Every book in the New Testament with the exception of Philemon warns vigorously against false teachers who will try to deceive God's people. It is a major if not over-riding emphasis of many of the epistles (Colossians, Jude) However critical assessment of doctrine and teachings is often seen as "negative" or contentious. At times it undoubtedly has been. Discernment is an essential part of our discipleship in Christ.

(Philippians 1:9-11 NKJV) " And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, {10} that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, {11} being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." (See also Col 1:9-10)

We need to judge rightly everything that claims to be "spiritual" or "of the Holy Spirit" (1John 4:1-3). This world's standards blind us and confuse us. Right and wrong, good and evil, false and true are getting harder and harder to figure out for the average Christian. With the current animosity towards doctrine, theology and Bible teaching in many areas of today's church people are ill-equipped to deal with what will be a powerful and subtle temptation. The temptations will possibly be as crafty as the ones Satan tried on Christ. These subtle temptations to self-gratification were only rebuffed by spiritual discernment based on a thorough knowledge of the Word of God.

How then can we discern those who will seek to deceive God's church? The first rule of thumb, and perhaps the best, is the test of the two great commandments "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and ...love your neighbor as yourself...". (Matthew 22:37-40). While not intended as a test of who is in and who is out it is the heart and soul of Christianity and sooner or later it is violated or "replaced" (e.g. the emphasis is shifted to power or comfort instead of love) by those who seek to deceive. Apart from this general rule of thumb Scripture gives some more specific tests that help us identify false miracle workers in our midst. They revolve around tests of true doctrine, true lifestyle and true fellowship. The tests are:

1) Does the miracle worker testify that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 4:15)

2) Does the miracle worker believe that Jesus Christ came in the flesh? (1 John 4:1-4)

3) Does the miracle worker claim to be the Messiah, 'a Christ' or in some way on a par with Jesus Himself? (Matthew 24:23,24; Mark 13:21,22; 2Corinthians 11:13-15)

4) Does the miracle worker have a life full of "good fruits" such as love, mercy and faithfulness? Or are they law-less and self pleasing? (Matt 7:15-20)

5) False miracle workers regularly display hate towards other Christians/ministries. This may involving "cursing" or threats that God will slay their critics. This is a sure sign that they are not of God and are in fact "in darkness". (1 John 2:8-11,3:15-18, 4:20,21)

6) False teachers are noted for enslaving people to quaint and unnecessary practices with regard to food, marriage, festivals, the Sabbath and even circumcision. (Colossians 2:16-23, 1 Timothy 4:1-7). True miracle workers set people free! (John 8:32-36, Galatians 5:1)

7) Does the miracle worker seek followers for themselves or for the Lord? (Acts 20:30)

8) Is the miracle worker greedy for financial gain? Or worldly? (Titus 1:11, 2:12, Jude 1:11, James 4:4, 1 John 4:1-6)

9) Does the miracle worker have generally "sound doctrine" or does he preach philosophy, myths and "old wives tales"? (1 Tim 4:1-7, Colossians 2:8-10)

10) Does the miracle worker love other Christians and actively fellowship within the Church? Or has he "broken away" from all forms of external accountability - especially to the Body of Christ ?( 1 John 2:18,19; 4:6)

(Matthew 7:15,16 NRSV) "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. {16} You will know them by their fruits......The false prophets have false lives. They are greedy, immoral, rebellious, deceptive and divisive. Jude describes them as:

(Jude 1:4-19 NRSV) For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. {8} Yet in the same way these dreamers also defile the flesh, reject authority, and slander the glorious ones.{10} But these people slander whatever they do not understand, and they are destroyed by those things that, like irrational animals, they know by instinct. {11} Woe to them! For they go the way of Cain, and abandon themselves to Balaam's error for the sake of gain, and perish in Korah's rebellion. {12} These are blemishes on your love-feasts, while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted; {13} wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved forever. {16} These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage...{19} It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions.

When so called "miracle-workers":

Have long appeals at the offering and flatter the rich for gain...
Are "bombastic in speech"...
Grumble about the standard of their accommodation...
Are worldly...
Slander or treat lightly the things of God...
And reject any authority over their ministry.

Then you have every right to doubt their authenticity. A true miracle worker will display a life of generosity, love and integrity . A true servant will be Christ-like and humble . It is not "a sin against the Holy Spirit" to test them. We are enjoined to test out that which claims to be spiritual (1 John 4:1-4) and "not to believe everyone..". (1 John 4:1). However the testing we are to conduct is to be positive, we are to test them with the intent to find them genuine. That is what the original Greek implies. It is a friendly thorough examination - not a witch hunt.

The Deception of The Whole World (2 Thess 2, Rev 13, 16, 19)

(2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 NRSV) And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. {9} The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, {10} and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. {11} For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, {12} so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

The power behind false miracles is clearly Satan. The character of these miracles is deception leading to lawlessness. The victims of the deception are those that "refuse to love the truth". Strangely, even though the delusion is clearly Satanic in origin, Paul attributes its ultimate origin to God "For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion...". God does not honor intellectual laziness and ethical slothfulness. Those who are apathetic about truth will fall victim to the forces of evil.

(Revelation 13:11-18 NRSV) Then I saw another beast that rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. {12} It exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. {13} It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of all; {14} and by the signs that it is allowed to perform on behalf of the beast, it deceives the inhabitants of earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived; {15} and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast could even speak and cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. {16} Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, {17} so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. {18} This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.

(Revelation 16:12-14 NRSV) The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. {13} And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet. {14} These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.

(Revelation 19:20 NRSV) And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

The false miracles at the end of the age will have one main object - the deception of the whole earth into following an idolatrous system of worship - " it deceives the inhabitants of earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived;" (Rev 13:14) . The end-times religion will be both idolatrous and magical. Idolatry is the substitution of the creature for the Creator. Magic is any system that claims to give people access to God's power without having to accept God's will.

This false religion, led by a false prophet will have enormous power and be able even to call fire to fall from heaven in the presence of all (Rev 13:13). The deception will be enhanced by appearing to have a superficial resemblance to Christianity (Matt 24:24) and may even use the name of Jesus in its magical formulas ... "have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" (Matt 7:22). The "masterminds" will be an "unholy trinity" - the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. They will be potent sources of demonic spiritual power which will work false miracles. (Revelation 16:13-14 )

The focus of this deception will be the world leaders, the deceiving spirits will " go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle..." . However, the net is a wide one and will catch everyone who is greedy for economic gain.

"Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name" (Rev 13:16-17).

In fact unless God has written your name in the Book of Life you will fall under this deception. (Revelation 13:8 ) It will be a multi-faceted assault on the Truth by the forces of evil. Paul describes it as "every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing," ( 2 Thess 2:10) there will not be a deception missing from Satan's plan -every kind of deception will be there! And prominent among all these deceptions will be "all power, signs, lying wonders,.." (2 Thess 2:9).

Conclusion

We are confronted with a frightening picture of a powerful and almost totally successful deception. Should we then despair and distrust all miracles ? I don't think so. Despair is rarely good counsel. We need to do the opposite. We need to so acquaint people with genuine miracles and true servants of God so that the fakes will be obvious. We need to bring into being a powerful but balanced and informed faith. The Church should now pursue both power and righteousness, both miracles and character, both Word and Spirit, both doctrine and experience, and both love and discernment.

Some weeds will be planted by the Enemy. Not all in the garden called revival will be roses. I hope you take a wiser and more sober approach to miracles in these last days. And yet I also earnestly hope that, you declare the gospel of God "not in words only but in power". Let me leave you with Paul's attitude to the proper use of miracles.

(Romans 15:18-21 NRSV) For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, {19} by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. {20} Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else's foundation, {21} but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand."

Biographical Note

The author, John Edmiston is a charismatic Christian and helps run a healing service in his home church. He believes in miracles but sees a need for discernment and wisdom with regard to them.

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.