Summary: Jesus foretold that there would arise false Christs and false prophets who will be able to deceive even the very elect of God, and when Christians speak about the antichrist, they usually envision some great, powerful ruler who will govern the entire world during the last days and wage war against the saints of God. But if our impression is wrong of who these false Christ’s, false prophets and the antichrist are, then we may not recognize them when they actually come among us. This article takes a look at what the Bible has to says about who these people are.
When the disciples of Jesus asked him a question about the last days, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:4,5, 24).
When we read this statement about false prophets, we usually think that Jesus is referring to preachers, both within and outside of the church, who will come teaching false doctrine and deceiving many believers in Christ into accepting their “damnable heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). Through the use of persuasive speech and performing “great signs and wonders,” they will be able to lead people away from Christ’s gospel of salvation.
But this interpretation may not only be inaccurate but dangerous because it can actually prevent us from recognizing the real anti-Christs when they come among us. As Paul stated, “If a trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8). If we are looking in the wrong place for false prophets, then we’re more likely to miss seeing them when they appear in a different form we’re not expecting. And if that happens it’ll be easier for them to deceive us with their message.
When Christians speak about the antichrist, they usually envision some great, powerful ruler who will govern the entire world during the last days and wage war against the saints of God, but the apostle John taught that “every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of the antichrist, wherefore ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is in the world” (1 John 4:3). “For many deceivers are entered in the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (1 John 1:7)
There are several important things we learn from these scriptures that help us identify who is the antichrist. The first is that he will be someone who denies that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. That means there isn’t just one antichrist. Anyone who denies Jesus is the Savior is “anti,” or is against Christ. Therefore, the antichrist can be anyone and everyone who not only refuses to accept Christ but works against him and his ways.
The second is that there will be antichrists in every era of man. John tells us that there were antichrist even in his day, and Jesus said that there would be false teachers who will seek to deceive even the very elect of God The third thing John tells us is that the method these antichrists will use to work against Christ is by deceit and trickery. In speaking about the devil, (who is the ultimate antichrist) John said, “For he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44), and the apostle Paul explains that the antichrist “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:18), by appealing to “the lusts of their own hearts” by changing “the truth of God into a lie” (Romans 1:24,25).
Obviously, the antichrists are inspired by the Father of lies, and in order for them to deceive the saints of God, they will change God’s truths into a lie. The way they do this is by calling evil good, and good evil, calling darkness light and light darkness, and “put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
In all ages there have been those who worship the world rather than God, but today we see this kind of attitude becoming more and more prevalent, even in America, despite it being founded on Christian principles. In fact, Christian beliefs are not only being mocked, but attacked, and those who are doing this fit the definition of the antichrist and false prophets.
For example, marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman. That is his plan for man’s ultimate happiness and is essential to fully gain eternal life. But the antichrists of the world – those who don’t want to have anything to do with God – say that marriage is just a tradition, not a law of God. They want us to believe that “marriage” can be whatever someone wants it to be – the union of two men or two women, or one man and two women, or any other kind of intimate relationship. There are some who want to be “married” to their pets, and there are even some who want to be married to themselves. The consequence of such a philosophy is to completely corrupt and destroy God’s definition of marriage, which is exactly the aim of an antichrist.
It was God who commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth, and the scriptures tell us that children are a heritage of the Lord (Psalms 127:3). Yet today’s antichrists want us to believe that abortion is much more preferable than having children. They say that a growing fetus isn’t really a living person but is merely a mass of tissue. Since it’s part of a woman’s body, she should have the right to decide whether to get rid of it or not. But if a woman chooses to have the child, then she’s criticized for doing so.
However, the liver and heart and other organs of the body are also just a “mass of tissue” that are inside a woman’s body. By that same reasoning she should have the right to get rid of any of them she wants, but not even the most avid supporter of abortion would accept that argument. To them, the only “mass of tissue” that a woman should have the right to get rid of is a growing fetus, even it if has a beating heart.
A more recent reason for preventing childbirth is that human activity is destroying the planet’s climate. For that reason, it is said that we can save the planet by not having children. In fact, there are those who go so far as to say that the planet would be better off if there were no humans on it at all. God’s law gives life and is designed to bring man happiness, while the modern-day antichrists want us to believe that killing humans is good and will bring salvation to our planet.
In the climate change debate, it is said that all reputable scientists are in complete agreement that human activity is destroying the frail ecological balance of the earth and is therefore putting the entire planet at risk. It is said that anyone who disagrees with that is called a science denier. Yet, it is a proven, scientific fact that what makes someone a female is that they have two X chromosomes, while what makes someone a male is that they have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.
But today, there are more and more people who want to deny this scientific fact by saying that our gender is not determined by our chromosomes but by how we feel about ourselves. If a biological male says he feels he’s a female, then he really is a female despite what his body looks like. And if a biological female thinks she’s a male, then we must accept her as being a male. Yet there is no scientific nor historical evidence to support this conclusion. So, on the one hand we’re not supposed to deny what science has agreed upon, but on the other hand we are supposed to deny long held and well-established scientific facts.
Even though the United States Constitution grants all Americans the right to worship as they choose, when a Christian stands up and advocates for their beliefs, they’re accused of forcing their religion on others. Yet, an atheist or humanist feels they should have the right to prevent a Christian from expressing their religious beliefs, even though the Constitution guarantees their right to do so. In that case, it is the atheists who are imposing their beliefs on others.
The dictionary defines the word “truth” as “that which is in accordance with fact or reality.” Even so, there is a philosophy being promoted that there is no such thing as “truth,” claiming that everything is relative. This theory says that what may be “true” for one person is not necessarily true for someone else. Under this line of reasoning, truth is whatever someone wants it to be, and what is true today may not be true tomorrow and vice versa.
As inconsistent and illogical as these kinds of arguments are, more and more people are accepting such foolishness as though they were proclaiming the most brilliant philosophy man has ever conceived. The question is, why do people believe such lies? There are two reasons.
The first, and most common is because people want to believe them. As Paul put it, these arguments appeal to “the lusts of their own heart.” For example, when two men or two women are sexually attracted to each other, the argument for a gay marriage appeals to the desires of their heart. In the same way, abortion appeals to those who feel that having a baby would be an inconvenience in their life. Furthermore, having an abortion is so much easier and quicker than delivering the baby and then giving the child up for adoption. For such a woman, the arguments for abortion seems like the perfect reason she needs to justify doing away with the growing child inside of her. And it’s this same desire to justify one’s actions, whatever they may be, that a person will eagerly embrace any false teaching, no matter how flawed it may be.
The second reason is ignorance. As Paul put it, “good words and fair speeches deceive the heart of the simple.” Being simple minded doesn’t necessarily mean being dumb or stupid. It more frequently refers to someone who is naive, uneducated, or lacking knowledge. For example, most people may be quite knowledgeable about eating healthy foods but may be completely uneducated about the important role that enzymes play for healthy digestion.
The prophet Joseph Smith taught that “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance” (D&C 131:6). For example, if we were offered a delicious looking piece of cake that was made with arsenic in it, we would probably eat it if we didn’t know it contained a deadly poison. But once we knew what was in it, we would refuse the offer, no matter how much incentive we were given to eat it.
In the same way, antichrists depend on people being ignorant of the false claims contained in their lies, therefore the more knowledge we have of God’s truths, the less likely we will be deceived by the good words and fair speeches of those who are against what God is for. For example, the way socialism or communism is portrayed, they make it sounds like it is the perfect way to be governed, but those who have lived under such a system are not fooled by its utopian promises. . .
However, all of us have weaknesses and none of us have a perfect knowledge of all things. Antichrists know this and use it to their advantage. Like the devil, whose instrument they’ve become, they never give up trying to deceive and seduce the believers of God. If they are unsuccessful using one line of attack, they will try again using a different approach. And if that fails, they will try another and another. One of the strengths of the antichrists is their persistence. If persuasion doesn’t work for them then they’ll resort to coercion, intimidation, mocking, shaming, threats, and even violence in order to get their way.
Oliver Cowdery is an example of how the devil can persuade even the most faithful followers of God to accept his lies. Oliver wrote with his own hand almost the entire Book of Mormon as Joseph Smith dictated it to him and he personally witnessed the revelatory process and felt the power of God during this translation process. He saw, with his own eyes, John the Baptist and the resurrected apostles Peter, James, John. as they laid their hands upon him and ordained him to God’s holy priesthood. Later, he saw the Lord Jesus Christ himself in the Kirtland temple and became one of the leaders of Christ’s restored church. With all of that, it couldn’t be said that Oliver was ignorant of the truth, yet Satan was able to find a weakness of pride and worked on him until it caused him to leave the church and follow after the false prophets of the world.
Then how do we remain faithful to God when faced with an unrelenting adversary? The apostle Paul gave us the answer when he said that the reason why God has place apostles and prophets and teachers in the church is so “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:11-14).
Part of the reason we were sent to live in mortality is to face challenges which are designed to help us grow to become more like our Father in heaven, and part of those challenges is to learn to make correct choices when faced with difficult decisions. The war in heaven was fought over choosing between conflicting ideas and that war continues today. In life we constantly find ourselves having to choose between walking in the light of truth or walking in the darkness of error.
But our Father in heaven hasn’t left us to face these challenges on our own. Instead, he sends living apostles and prophets to teach, guide, encourage, strengthen, and warn in an effort to help us make wise choices that will help keep us on the path of truth. However, what he will not do is make our decisions for us, because to do so would rob us of the opportunity to learn and to grow. Therefore, he leaves it up to each of us to decide whether we want to follow what his prophets tell us or whether we would rather follow what we hear coming from the “prophets” of the world.
The two things that lead us into error are ignorance and the desires of our heart. Therefore, the role of prophets and apostles is not only to teach us truth so we’re not left in ignorance, but more importantly they teach us how to shun error and to develop within us the desire to follow the path that leads to truth. Since this is what the Holy Ghost helps us do, prophets teach us how to invite the Spirit into our life and how to receive instruction from him. As we do this, he will strengthen us spiritually, comfort us when we face difficult times, and guide us when we’re not sure what the right thing is to do.
In addition to this, we’ve been counseled to read and ponder the scriptures every day, but the devil wants us to believe that there are too many more important things that need to be done first. Taking time to attend church, partaking of the sacrament, and keeping the Sabbath day holy can appear to be counterproductive when there are so many other things that need our immediate attention. Spending time in the temple may seem like a good idea but there never seems to be enough time to go there. Yet, the truth is, that it’s doing things like this that will help keep us from being deceived by the antichrists of the world.
Related articles can be found at The Nature of Man