Christ began His message on last-day events with a warning against deception. He reiterated it several times as He answered the disciples’ question about the signs of His coming and of the end of the world. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matthew 24:4.
In His message to Laodicea, Christ warns His church of being in a state of self-deception. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:17. Jeremiah declares that deception is a condition of the human heart:. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. And Paul warns us that in the last days the man of sin shall deceive all those who “received not the love of the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3–10.
We might be tempted to think, as Peter did, that we are exempt from these warnings. But history proves that even Peter was deceived, though he loved Jesus and professed to believe in His word. Why was Peter self-deceived, denying Christ in the hour of trial? The apostle Paul gave us the answer: we are deceived when we do not love the truth. Loving truth is more than intellectual assent. It is loving the experience of truth, not just the theory of truth—and the truth is Jesus. If we truly love Him, we will yearn to be like Him!
Peter was willing to die to defend Jesus, but he did not love Jesus as the truth; he did not love and yearn to be like Him. Jesus said, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” Matthew 11:29. Paul exhorts us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Christ took upon Himself “the form of a servant” and “He humbled Himself…even [unto] the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5–8. Paul yearned to be like Christ in His humility and death! He said, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” Philippians 3:10.
“The whole gospel is comprised in learning of Christ—His meekness and lowliness. What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.”1
It is only as we experience Christ’s humility that we are safe from the peril of self-deception in these last days!
1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 456.