Every Thought Captive

Defeating Deceit

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming His name and His dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

If anyone is to be taken captive,  
to captivity he goes;  
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,  
with the sword must he be slain.  
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.  

Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 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 unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.  

Revelation 13:1-18

Last week, I received what appeared to be an “Evite” from a former co-worker. It seemed normal, and I clicked on the “open” tab, but the “invitation” didn’t open. I contacted the named sender, and she responded that she knew about it and it was a phishing scam—a fraud.

Though we actively guard against it, deceit persists in the world—and the worst deceit is that which leads men, women, boys, and girls away from trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior.

During the final week of His life, Jesus spoke to His disciples about conditions in generations to come, including spiritual counterfeits and deceit. He said, “false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24-25)

The Lord would reveal climactic deception through visions given to the apostle John. Revelation 13 pictures a beast out of the sea—a stunning figure with Satan’s power who attains global authority, leading the world to worship Satan. He would attack the Lord’s people and be allowed to conquer them (Revelation 13:7), that is, to so persecute and overwhelm them that their presence and influence seem gone.

Another beast would appear from the earth. This beast “deceives those who dwell on the earth, telling them to make an image for the beast…” and causes “those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.” (Revelation 13:15) John’s visions predict fierce persecution of Jesus’ people in the world; but though Satan is allowed to act freely for a determined time, the Lord still reigns.

What do these prophecies say to us today? Certainly, we, His people, are called to stand, to resist falsehoods promoted by Satan. How does he deceive, and how do we stand?

One way Satan’s forces deceive even Christians is with distraction. We are busy with our careers, our friends, our ministries, our family activities, all good and important matters. We buy things and go on spring break—enjoying God’s goodness. But do we increasingly know the Lord Himself well so that philosophies and agendas that counterfeit His ways (sometimes using His own words!) are obvious and we are not fooled? As we know Him, our faith is strengthened. John wrote, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

Satan deceives also through dominance—using what seems effective and beautiful—in political, social, artistic, or even religious spheres. We’re drawn to ally ourselves with success, sometimes forgetting that only Christ, His people, and His Word endure. Could you be drawn to follow what dominates now instead of what will endure forever? We resist with deepening love for Christ, as we know Him through His Word and His Spirit.

Satan also draws us away with disturbance. It’s hard to be sick or to feel defeated, and even harder when trouble comes to someone we love. We are dismayed when we pray, and God does not rescue or reward us as we’ve asked. But we stand with hope in our Savior who loves us and died for us.

God’s enemy has many strategies of deception. On our own—Jesus said it—we would fail. He said even the elect, His redeemed people, would be deceived “if it were possible.” We are called to follow our Savior with faith, love, and hope and to run to Him hard when trouble and temptation strike. We resist deceit because we are His, held firm by the One who is the Truth.

About the Author

Photograph of Neatice Warner

Neatice Warner

Neatice grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and graduated from the University of New Mexico. She is married to Terry and has 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and 3 grandsons. Neatice is privileged to teach the PCPC Women's Early Morning Bible Study; her passion, along with her family, is God's Word and the joy of seeing God's people transformed by His Spirit through that Word.