Forewarned Is Forearmed
When I was very young, my father made it a point to warn my siblings and me on numerous occasions of the danger of rattle snakes. We were soon to be moving into an area where there was a high density of prairie rattlers. So, he described what they looked like, the type of buzzing noise they would make when they were agitated and likely to strike, and how we should respond in such a situation. In his mind, forewarning his children was forearming them.
Our Father, through Christ, forewarns us of certain danger to come as well. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:21-22). To be deceived and turned away from God by false christs or prophets through their signs and wonders immediately ahead of Christ’s actual coming would be unthinkably sad – like losing a physical child to a snake’s venom. That is why Christ goes on to say, “But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand” (Mark 13:23). We are now being reminded of the imminent fulfillment of His forewarning.
The working of miracles, whether real or imagined, has never been proof of who is a true servant of God. Through Moses, God makes this very clear. “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3). The stunning miracles or prophecies of false christs or prophets are what God allows in order to test His elect. And the purpose of such tests is to know if we truly love God and His word and His way above all else. The test is between deception that can be seen and an incorruptible internal confidence in our unseen God.
The Apostle John instructs believers in this way. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). False christs and prophets can be proven as to what sort of spirit they are of according to whether or not they speak and live by God’s truth. When Satan, that serpent of old, was seeking to tempt Christ, Christ answered in this manner, “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).” A man calling fire down from heaven or raising a person from the dead, but not teaching and living God’s truth is of the wrong spirit and ready to inject his venom.
Forewarned is forearmed.