By Billy Graham | First Published: April 12, 2016
We are apparently living in the time described by Paul: “In the last days perilous times will come: For men shall be lovers of themselves … lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-2, 4).
This modern age holds more glittering allurements than any other age in history. Yet we find responsible people trying to gloss over these evils. This is not a time to gloss over, rationalize and explain away, but it is a time to oppose evil, lest our society becomes totally corrupt.
The Bible plainly teaches that one of the characteristics of the end of this age is that people will develop a capacity for delusion rather than the truth.
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Today, sin is explained away by psychological terminology. God is portrayed as a sentimental creature who never lets His wrath fall on anyone. Thousands of Americans are deluded by philosophies that are destroying the strength of the nation and threatening our security.
Surely we are living in the day of which the Apostle Paul warned when he wrote: “And with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
What a mysterious and striking statement Paul makes, “For this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.” And yet what a candid picture of modern man: deceived by the mouthings of demagogues, yet indifferent to the voice of God. Driven by some diabolical, compulsive force, we rush toward the precipice of global destruction.
The Bible indicates that because we have rejected the truth, we are victims of a gigantic delusion. Paul had said earlier to the Romans that the people of his day had “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.”
And “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions” (Romans 1:25-26). Three times in the first chapter of Romans the Scripture says, “God gave them up” because of their sins.
Everywhere we look today, we see the propensity for delusion. We see it in our gullibility for false advertising. Madison Avenue has built a gigantic business on the principle that modern man has the capacity for deception.
We see this capacity for delusion in politics. Political platforms, like the platforms of trains, are for the sole purpose of getting a man aboard. When we witness the maneuvering, the use of power, the conniving and the policy of expediency in our political arena, it is no wonder someone has said, “We have the best politicians that money can buy.”
The Scripture teaches that the more sins we commit, the easier it becomes to sin. It lies in the nature of God’s moral government and in the moral constitution of man that sin indulged weakens the strength of resistance, and so invites and prepares the way for more frequent and violent assaults of temptation.
Thus, yielding to sin receives part of its punishment in the slavery to sin. All men and women must believe something; if not the truth, then the lie of the devil.
Paul says that the unbelievers in Thessalonica had their pleasure in evil. Thus, they became “wise” in doing evil and fell so deep in sin that they began to call evil good.
Where a person has deviated from the eternal rules of God and morality, there is darkness. And while in darkness, he begins to pass false judgments upon most things of vital import. You, too, can reach such a state in your sinfulness that you can no longer tell the difference between good and evil.
This passage indicates that God sends this delusion upon sinners. The Scriptures and experience suggest that there comes a point when God gives men and women up in their sins. He can do this by withdrawing His enlightening influence from their understanding.
It is never possible to understand the happenings in our times unless God gives us spiritual illumination. Because our sins have become so heinous in His sight, He withdraws this spiritual illumination and we stumble on in our blindness into the deeper darkness.
Even the church is in danger of being led astray and deluded by false teachers and pastors. Jeremiah cried out: “’Woe to the shepherds [pastors] who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!’’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1). God warned the people of Jerusalem in that ancient day, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:16).
God warned that they say, “You shall have peace,” when there is no peace; that they say, “No evil shall come upon you” (Jeremiah 23:17) when destruction is about to fall.
God accused the prophets of that day of having perverted the words of the living God, and God warned, “I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten” (Jeremiah 23:40).
The Scripture teaches that Satan sometimes fashions himself into an angel of light. When the devil approaches to tempt, he does not carry a warning sign saying, “I am the devil.” He comes in a thousand subtle forms, with delusions and lying wonders.
First he brings the delusion that sin will bring fullness to your life.
This was the first delusion that the devil ever brought to the human race. Though it is worn and threadbare, he is still repeating it today. To Adam and Eve he said, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
I have a friend who was one of the nation’s youngest golf “pros” at the age of 17. He had high ideals as a young man, but he fell prey to the same delusion when his pals insisted that he conform to their way of life. Because he wanted to fit in, he began to do the things the gang did until he became an alcoholic and a bum. He fell a victim to the age-old delusion that the way to a full life is to break God’s law. Sin pays—but it pays off in remorse, regret and failure.
Many of you think that real fun is found in conforming to this world, living a life of unrestrained appetite and pleasure. Yet the Scriptures warn that “the way of the unfaithful is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).
I wish you could look over my shoulder and read some of the letters which I receive telling of broken hearts, broken homes and shattered futures. The writers believed a lie rather than the truth.
Second, Satan tries to get us to believe that the soul is of much less importance than the body. Jesus brushed this delusion aside when He asked, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
The Scripture says there is a time to be born and a time to die. The Scripture warns that life is like grass that withers or a flower that fades.
In other words, life is surprisingly short. Yet millions are living as though this were the only life that counted. They have completely lost sight of eternity. Would to God that we would learn to live each day with eternity’s values in view.
Nowhere has the biblical question, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3) ever been successfully answered, except in the Scriptures. The answer is: There is no escape from God. Yet thousands of people think that they can escape from the realities of time and eternity.
Men and women are trying to escape through imagination, pleasure, false security or self-sufficiency, but the Bible warns there is no such escape. However, there is good news for all of you who are seeking a way out. There is one way of escape. There is one way of deliverance.
Following the frightening words, “How shall we escape,” we are told about God’s way of escape. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone … and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:9, 15). He is the way of escape that God provided.
The Bible declares, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). The Scripture teaches that He is the embodiment of all truth. Come to Him in simple, childlike faith, and He will be your way of escape. He brings you to Himself, to send you back into the world as His witness.
Finally, many are deceived by Satan into thinking that there is plenty of time to get right with God.
Amos the prophet said to the people of his day, “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12). But the people refused to prepare, and judgment came. I am certain that almost all those people planned to make their peace with God sometime.
We neglect our relationship with God because we are deluded into thinking that the Christian faith is just a cosmic fire insurance policy to save us from hell. It does more than that. It saves us from hell on earth.
The older we grow, the dimmer the faculty of hearing becomes. Just so does our capacity to hear the voice of God diminish with age.
You will never find it easier to accept Christ than at this moment. To delay one moment is to find it harder. “Now is the accepted time,” says the Bible. “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
It is a delusion to think that tomorrow will be better than today. Faith in tomorrow, rather than faith in Christ, is a delusion that will cause you to be finally and eternally lost. ©1960 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.