Deception is rampant. Everywhere you turn, people are deceived. One would like to think the church is immune to the wiles of the devil. However, as we have seen from several recent articles, deception is also rampant in the church. In fact, much of what calls itself the church is steeped in false doctrines which would make the Apostles blush. The good news is we are not left without remedy. Thankfully, the Word of God provides us with a blueprint for ‘dealing with deception.’ The chief problem is most do not have the fortitude to follow the prescription set forth in Scripture. For in doing so, offense will surely come and those who speak the truth in love will be shunned and labeled ‘those who have a religious spirit.’
Perhaps the best place to start is by citing the fact that Jesus warned of deception more than any other single issue. This is clearly on display in Matthew chapter twenty-four when His disciples inquired about the dire warning He had just uttered about the temple. The first words out of Jesus’ mouth were, “take heed that no man deceive you” (Matt 24:4).  Jesus goes on to warn the disciples about deception three more times in Matthew 24 alone (Matt 24:5, 11, 24). This means that Jesus was very aware that deception was forthcoming and He desired to inform the disciples, and by extension us, to be wary of deceivers.
Jesus, throughout this passage, provides a couple of very important actions the believer is to take when confronted by deception. In verse four, He says, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” In verse twenty-three, Jesus says, “If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.” In verse 26, Jesus says, “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Therefore, we are to take heed and believe not that which stands in opposition of what is observable in the written Word of God. This is why Jesus said in verse twenty-five that He has told us what will happen before it happens, so we can know the true from the false.
With this in mind, it is vital that we examine the Bible when confronted with anything that a so-called minister of righteousness attempts to pass off as a new truth or revelation knowledge. Paul warned us:
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Take note that Paul called these men Satan’s ministers. Therefore, these are men who appear to be ministers of righteousness when they are actually the exact opposite. This is why Jude informed us that some would creep in unawares for the purpose of changing the grace of God into a license to sin (Jude 4). At the same time, these will deny the Father and the Son – Jesus Christ, which elsewhere is depicted as the actions of an antichrist (1 John 2:22). Accordingly, these are antichrists masquerading around as ministers of righteousness. 
John spoke of the arrival of many of these antichrists in his day:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”
Notice, John saw the arrival of these ‘many antichrists’ as a sign of the last time, and he wrote these words nearly two thousand years ago. Fast forward to our day, and the number of antichrists has increased many times over. In fact, you will find more ministers of Satan working today than ministers of righteousness. If you think this is not so, begin to examine the ministries that fill the airwaves, and you will find that a very large percentage of those now garnering attention from the masses are actually scripturally bankrupt. This has gone on for far too long, and the consequences are dire. You see, leaven that was so little in the beginning has begun to leaven the whole lump (Gal 5:9). Soon, only leaven will remain. 
Sadly, many falsehoods, propagated for some time now, have found their way into once sound seminaries. This means many of those coming out of the schools and into the pulpits have already fallen snare to the wiles of the devil without realizing they were misled by their supposed mentors. Make no mistake, the false doctrines coming out of said seminaries have been planted by ministers of Satan who, just like a child on Halloween, changes into what they want others to perceive them to be. With all of this said, how do we go about ‘dealing with deception’?
Return to the Truth
First, we must return to the truth of God’s Word and study to show ourselves approved unto God by rightly dividing what He has said to us (2 Tim 2:15). In other words, we must understand God’s Word the way He intended us to. This means we are not at liberty to change what God said in order to validate pet doctrines or fulfill human desires. The Apostle Paul confirms that the best method for dealing with deception is relying on the truth that one has learned from the Holy Scriptures, especially when dealing with evil men who practice seduction:
2 Timothy 3:13-17
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
Notice, Paul instructs Timothy to rely on what he has taught him, but he qualifies what he has taught Timothy by referring Him to Scripture as the absolute arbiter of truth. Further, Paul provided Timothy with our next steps in ‘dealing with deception.’ After specifying that Scripture is the only thing from which sound doctrine can be built, he also indicates that Scripture is to be used to reprove, correct, and instruct so that perfection (maturity) manifests in those who would do good works for God.
Reprove – Correct – Instruct
To reprove means to express disapproval about something. When done in a biblical manner, this reproof should be for the purpose of convicting the errant one in hope that they turn from the incorrect path they are on and begin to follow Jesus on the straight and narrow path. Another way to look at reproof is it is done with love, for the purpose of alerting someone they are in error according to Scriptural truth. In tandem with reproof is correction.
Correction is essentially setting forth the correct path. Perhaps this is what is meant by the rod in the passage about foolishness being bound up in the heart of a child… the rod of correction drives the foolishness far from him (Prov 22:15). The rod represents a straight, unbending, unwavering path. Put together, the rod and the correction are the means of entrance onto the proper path, the path God would that one travel on.
Rightly dividing Scripture is absolutely the best way to correct error. Often, error is unintentional. In fact, many fall into error by having an incomplete understanding of what God intended on a particular subject. Correction in these cases can be as simple as expounding on the truth of Scripture, which can free the one in error from the deception involved.
The most difficult reproof and correction to bring is that which is brought to one who wishes to deceive. These are, as mentioned earlier, ministers of Satan. The method is the same. However, when a minister of righteousness reproves and/or corrects a deceiver, the deceiver usually attempts to paint the minister of righteousness as the one who is at fault, often calling them judgmental or trying to persuade others that the minister of righteousness has a religious spirit.
After reproof and correction have been implemented, the next step is instruction in righteousness. Though this is listed last, it is by no means the least of these three powerful tools that can be employed when ‘dealing with deception.’ Another word for instruction is education. This immediately brings to mind the act of attending school, a process that takes the lion’s share of time for children as they learn how to become responsible members of society. However, in keeping with the narrative at hand, instruction is meant to be of the sort which comes from Godly instruction through hearing God’s Word through preaching, psalms and hymns, and personal Bible study. The reason this step is so valuable is if it is done properly, reproof and correction may never be necessary.
This brings us full circle to the fact that we, each of us, must study God’s Word with the intent to ascertain the correct path on which to travel. All the while being wary of deception.
Dealing with Deceivers
Now that we have established that deception is mainstream and the best way to avoid it is to keep our mind stayed on Christ, the question arises: How do we go about ‘dealing with deceivers’? Do we simply avoid them? Or are we to expose them? The answer is, actually, we should do both of these things. Paul provided instruction in the book of Romans about how to deal with those who, through fair speeches, deceive:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (emphasis mine)
To mark someone means to identify them as someone who should be carefully observed because they are suspicious at best and devious at worst. This implies that those who minister for Satan should be marked (identified), which means they should be exposed for the false teachers they are. They should also be avoided. If these two things are done, the false teaching will perish because there are no hearers to deceive. However, this does not seem to be what is happening in these last of days. No, instead of turning from those who propagate fallacy, many are falling for the deceptions of those who masquerade as ministers of righteousness. There are many reasons this is happening, and here we will address two.
First, because there are so many false teachers now, most people do not have any idea where to turn for help in the identification process. Without hesitation, the very first place to turn is to the book of truth, the Bible. Thorough study of the authentic will help anyone identify those who present anything that is contrary to God’s intent. Since it will take some time to achieve thorough understanding of the whole of Scripture, praying for discernment would be a good choice. After all, the Holy Spirit leads into all truths (John 16:13). Additionally, there are tools available that can be relied upon to properly identify those who should be avoided. One such tool is a website called NAR Connections; this site identifies many false teachers by name. 
Second, many simply do not want to avoid those they have grown accustomed to. In fact, some of the false teachers we have been dealing with in the false prosperity gospel  and the Word of Faith Movement  have been spewing their falsehoods for over five decades. These people have become staples in many homes, and removing them is extremely difficult. However, the best formula available is to mark them and avoid them. In others words, understand they are false teachers and no longer allow them to pervert your thinking.
Perhaps the best way to achieve this separation is to see false teachers the way Jesus saw them. In Matthew chapter seven, Jesus identified false prophets as ravening wolves who come to you in sheep’s clothing (Matt 7:15). This imagery might just be what some need to realize that even though these ministers of false light look and sound so good, they are actually very dangerous. In fact, listening to them will eventually cause one to fall prey to their deceptions.
Deception vies for dominance against the Truth. Deceivers are waxing worse and worse, seemingly multiplying daily. Throughout all of biblical history, the best defense against deception is knowing and applying the truth in every situation in life. God’s Word must reign supreme. We must not allow our understanding to come solely from the interpretation of men, for man is fallible. Only God is perfect. Only God can be trusted without hesitation. Only God has your absolute best interest in mind. Remember, if you love Him and answer His call in accordance to His will, not yours, He will work all things out for your good (Acts 13:19).
It is very important to keep in mind that if you ever engage in conversation with someone who is trapped in false doctrine, your words must be filled with love and compassion. In fact, Paul speaks of this in the book of Ephesians while speaking about ‘dealing with deception’:
“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; But speaking the truth in love.” (emphasis mine)
Website: In His Commission
 “Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the King James Version.”
 For greater understanding, see the article, “The Rise of Many.”
 For greater understanding, see the article, “The Great Awakening – The Grand Deception.”
For greater understanding, visit, “NAR Connections.”
 For greater understanding, see the article, “Prosperity Gospel: Creator of the Laodicean Church.”
 For greater understanding, see the article, “The Worst Kind of Famine.”