by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
My family and I recently took a vacation to get away from it all. While we were planning our week, we discovered Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition was nearby. This powerful presentation has been viewed all over the world. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the infamous ship, so I decided it would be a good learning experience for my girls.
It was fascinating and tragic. I shed a few tears viewing the devastation as I witnessed from a distance, but I knew real people had experienced it firsthand. I was remarkably struck by a comment made by one woman who decided against boarding the ship. And although I can't remember her quote word for word, she stated that the Titanic was the most beautiful and elegant thing she had ever laid her eyes on. The elaborate decor, the grandeur, and luxury were astonishing. And yet, she could sense in her bones that the magnificent ship was a monster.
And it was. The tragedy of the Titanic took the lives of more than 1,500 men, women, and children. Only slightly more than 700 survived the disaster. What pricked my heart immediately was the thought that deception in the Church is no different.
Jesus warns us very clearly about this very thing. "And Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, "I am the Christ," and will deceive many…. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold…. Then if anyone says to you, "Look, here is the Christ!" or "There!" do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.'" (Matt 24:4-5; 11-21; 23-25)
In this chapter alone, Jesus warns us three times to beware of deception. Is He talking to non-believers? No, He is warning His Church. He is warning His Church that many will come in His name yet sharing a false gospel. Is it possible that we could view another gospel as many viewed the Titanic? An appealing and bewitching ship that turned into a demon.
What if we are following a gospel of comfort instead of surrender? What if we are following a gospel of experience instead of obedience? What if we are following a gospel of signs and wonders instead of sacrifice? What if we are following a gospel that says there is no hell? What if we are following a gospel that is missional but doesn't honor the cross?
You might recognize some of these as blatant deception. Others, however, may not be so easy to recognize, because they take a portion of the Truth and distort and pervert it to create a gospel of their own making. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." So how do we protect ourselves from deception? What does Jesus say we must do? We must take heed.
• We must first be aware that we can fall into
deception. While it might be difficult to believe we
can fall into deception, if Jesus is warning us, we are
• We must be in the Word! That is the only way we
can separate the lies from the Truth. God gave us His
Word to protect us. We have to put on His armor!
• We have to seek Jesus over man. So often we have a
tendency to fall into deception because we follow a
man (or woman) over Christ. We have to be willing to
recognize that even those we highly respect could be
• We have to pray that God keep us from deception.
That is a constant prayer of mine. "Lord, keep me
from being deceived." We can't do it in our own
power; it has to be through the power of the Holy
The Titanic was the most exquisite ship ever made. A first-class ticket cost $2,500 (more than $57,000 in today's money). And yet, with that honor of boarding the "unsinkable ship" was a potential death sentence that rivaled most nightmares. Deception is kindred to that horrific ship.
May this be our prayer, "Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name." (Psalm 86:11)