Deception Begins With Unbelief

by Mike Ratliff

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:53-58 ESV)

As we continue to look at the evidence of God sending out a strong delusion upon professing Christians who appear to be running headlong into apostasy in ever increasing numbers let us look at what it is in these people that has brought this about. Why have they fallen into darkness and we have not? I read part of an article today that was written in response to Therefore God Sends Them Strong Delusion in which the author attempted to make it look like I was actually blaming God for the apostasy we were seeing. I have run into many with that sort of “mind-set” in my many years as a Bible teacher. I have always taught God’s Word as literal truth and there are many places in the Word that some professing Christians have a problem taking literally because, if we do, then it refutes their pet theology exactly to the point. That is the nature of God’s truth. I have had some very ugly discussions in Bible Study classes about doctrine in which certain people were insistent that a section of God’s Word cannot be taken literally even though the only refutation they have against doing so is human philosophy. This, my brethren, is unbelief in action. 

Unbelief in Matthew 13:58 at the top of this post is the Greek word ἀπιστίαν or apistian, which speaks of faithlessness or uncertainty, distrust, or unbelief. It is used in the New Testament to show a lack of acknowledgment of Christ in Matthew 13:58 and Mark 6:6, a want of confidence in His power in Matthew 17:20 and Mark 9:24 and a want of trust in the God of promise in Romans 4:20 and Hebrews 3:12 and 3:19. Unbelief leads to a turning from obedience to follow what the flesh wants or what one wants to believe instead of believing God and walking by faith. This causes a hardness of heart to set in and become progressively worse unless God grants repentance, breaks through the hardness of heart and the person turns to Him in belief. If this does not happen then the heart will grow continually harder no matter how religious the professing believer becomes. Accompanying this heart hardening is spiritual blindness.

Professing Christians in this state of heart hardening and growing spiritual blindness are not regenerate. If they were, they would be spiritually alive and God would not allow them to apostatize, however, as John tells us in his 1st epistle:

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19 ESV)

Those who fall into irrevocable apostasy prove they were never truly Christians by this act. True, regenerate believers prove their authenticity by remaining faithful. However, there are professing Christians all over the place who are apostatizing, going after all sorts of false religions, trying to incorporate other religions into Christianity, et cetera, thereby proving that they are not truly Christians. They got to this point by starting with in their unbelief and disobedience. Eventually, they became so spiritually blind and hardhearted that they became open to all sorts of deception and that is what we are seeing all around us now. I used this passage in last night’s post.

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 ESV)

Here we see that these people become so hardhearted and spiritually blind that they get to the point that they do not believe the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. A literal translation of verse 12 from the Greek would read, “that might be judged all the not ones trusting in the truth but having thought well in the unright.” They pursue what is not of God and take pleasure in it. They proclaim it to be right and true because they have rejected what really is truth, God’s truth, as the truth. They are in unbelief, are now so hard hearted, and spiritually blind that they are ready for the final piece of the puzzle. God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false. That is why we see so many professing Christians all around us right now falling all over themselves to go hard after false doctrines and follow men rather than God’s Truth and the Lord Jesus Christ and His good doctrines.

These professing Christians are not genuine believers because they are not regenerate. Their fall into apostasy began with unbelief and progressed into hard-heartedness and spiritual-blindness to the point that they found pleasure in unrighteousness. God then sends them a strong delusion to seal the deal. They believe the lie. They assume they are the real Christians and those who remain faithful are only dumb fundamentalists or whatever. They believe they are so cool and “with it” and “culturally-relevant,” but they have been deceived and it all began with their unbelief.

Soli Deo Gloria!

22 thoughts on “Deception Begins With Unbelief

  1. Well said Mike. These type of apostate Christians are everywhere. They have a form of godliness, but there’s no power, no life-changing supernatural work of God done within. They are a sign, this is how we know it is the last hour.
    May the Lord be praised for using you to teach and instruct His own.



  2. Mike, unless The Lord changes their heart, they will also end with unbelief, and the Holy Scripture states their fate:
    “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Rev. 21:8 KJV
    How horrible! We must continue to speak the Truth to them!


  3. Wow, Mike! This must have been very difficult for you to write…but necessary, as the hour is very late and so many are being seduced….

    Thank you and God bless you always!


  4. How strong a sign of apostasy is being with-it? I have friends that seem kind of with-it, cool glasses and all. What does that indicate about their eternal souls?

    We must always be on the watch!


  5. Marc, loving this present age to the point that it compromises ones love and service and obedience as a disciple of the Lord is more than a sign of apostasy, it is apostasy. I believe we are instructed in the Word to not even appear to look like the world, but I am sure that as God burns away our love for the world in our sanctification this process will do that as we mature in Christ. This, of course, applies only to genuine believers.


  6. Another great post.
    These things are so hard.
    Watching those that you love go down the road to apostasy!
    Those with whom you worshipped, and fellowshipped.
    It all feels like a farce.
    I feel foolish myself, that I was so deceived by them!
    My prayer is for them to be saved, to be shown the deception, the lie that they are swallowing!!!
    Only the Lord Jesus Christ knows.
    I praise God that He faithfully wiped away the scales and the veil of deception. For such a long time I was in denial, I suppose.
    I was always taught that when it came to worldliness and worldly-mindedness that I should get as far away from the line as possible so that there would be no doubt where I stood/stand. Seems like everyone is an “undercover” Christian, walking the line like a tightrope, trying to be acceptable to and tolerant of everyone.
    I agree that there is a measure of patience when it comes to those who are new or young in the faith, leaving time for the Holy Spirit to work. But, He does work! There is always a difference in a truly born-again, Spirit filled person than a religious churchy imposter.
    Again, I go back to praying for those loved ones still caught up in it, I am fearful that they will be so immersed in it, that it will be all-consuming. So much so that they can no longer see the REAL truth, their truth is what their own minds have conjured.

    Praise God!
    He worthy of praise!
    No matter what!
    And it will most likely get worse…..until the trumpet sounds!


  7. Amen Berean Gal, I look at my own journey and wonder what in the world the Lord saw in me that would have caused Him to have mercy on a sinner like me… In any case, I am so grateful that He did. I was a piece of work for a long time after that too. I listened to the wrong people. I pretended to be mature when I wasn’t. It was only after some very serious ash heap suffering (which I fear is not over yet) that this believer has been humbled enough to be used by God a bit. However, as I keep my eyes on the prize, I understand that it is all worth it. What a wonderful Saviour we have! It is not about us and that is the difference. Those on the wrong path are on the one that makes it all about them and they don’t see it because they are spiritually blind. Let us stay on this narrow and straight and often arduous path for the celestial city is not that far away my sister.


  8. Thanks, Mike!

    That’s why I just wear suits and contact lenses. No one can ever mistake me for the world!


  9. Marc, well, we can take that too far you know. We are in the world, but we are not to BE OF THE WORLD. I think we must take that literally. It is all wrapped up in motives, right?


  10. Marc, therefore, we look at fruit. That is what our Lord said, “By their fruit ye shall know them.” The “them” there are the false believers and false prophets, etc. What is the fruit? It is their doctrine and their focus. Are they all about self and the world then they are not focused on Christ and His will and His glory. Huge red flag. Is their doctrine all about world domination or redeeming the world or is it about being that humble servant the brings glory to God? Do you see the difference?


  11. Since Jesus is the Vine, those who truly follow Him, and are grafted into Him, will derive their life from The Vine, and thus bear fruit consistent with The Vine. Worldly, fleshly values and mindset are not consistent with the life that flows from the Vine. Neither are doctrines or beliefs that are at variance with His revealed Word of Truth (the Holy Scriptures). Thus, those who say they are of Christ, yet are resistant to His Truth, or who gravitate toward spiritual error, reveal whether or not they truly derive their life from The Vine.

    Thank you, Mike, for holding fast to the Truth in the midst of continual opposition. May the Lord strengthen you and bless you.


  12. We must not conceal from ourselves that true Christianity brings with it a daily cross in this life, while it offers us a crown of glory in the life to come. The flesh must be daily crucified. The devil must be daily resisted. The world must be daily overcome. There is a warfare to be waged, and a battle to be fought. All this is the inseparable accompaniment of true religion. Heaven is not to be won without it. Never was there a truer word than the old saying, “No cross, no crown!” If we never found this out by experience, our souls are in a poor condition.

    ~ J.C. Ryle


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