Beware of Fraud
We ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. – 2 Thessalonians 2:1b-3a
There will always be false prophets in every age. In a broad sense, anyone or any group that claims to be able to save humanity (be it politicians, celebrities, CEOs) is a false prophet. Though we may distinguish between religious and secular and place this group in the secular, the end goal of religious and secular is the same–to find the meaning of life.
To break down the etymology of false prophets:
- A Prophet prophesies–that is, they remark about future events.
- False means wrong.
Put the two together–a false prophet is someone who gives the wrong prophesy. They will preach nonsense, and often times don't even know themselves what they are talking about.
No human can consistently accurately predict the future. You may guess, and you might even guess the trend correctly. But there's no way you can do so with extreme detail. Only an all-knowing all-powerful all-present being can, which is God.
Paul warns the Thessalonians that the enemy will attempt to lead you astray through many ways:
- Spoken word
- A letter seeming to be from us
That last one is fraud! Well, they are actually all fraud.
Spirit–This refers to another religion. Sure, we can go with Hinduism or Buddhism, which are wildly different. Or there are monotheistic variants like Judaism and Muslim. Then there are Christian cults like Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses. And finally, the enemy can even penetrate into orthodox Christian churches. The closer they get to us, the more deadly they are.
Spoken word–A really good speaker with malicious intent has the power to lead even strong believers astray. This comes from the eloquence and elegance of prose and speech. Universities today have public speaking classes, and even have a major known as communication. In other words, really good communicators with evil roots are extremely deadly.
Letter–Words on paper. Modern information infrastructure requires security. This refers to authentication, where the sender proves who they are. The protocols are not perfect, and thus there are ways to bypass this. By getting to the root source of trust, malicious actors can take advantage of us if we're not careful.
We must be able to recognize fraud in such forms. But how? By reading the Word and drawing closer to God. Only by deepening our relationship with God and our understanding of God can we hope to dismiss false prophets and stay the course.
Every weekend I write about some thoughts, life lessons, and interesting things I came by for the week. I'd love for you to join.