Daily Devotional

September 19, 2016

Coney Island

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. – 2 Timothy 3:13

Many years ago when I was a boy, my parents used to take my siblings and me to a stream outside of the town where we lived. It was an annual event; we children usually picked blackberries and played in the water. We especially had fun playing on a certain rock that stuck out of the stream and was large enough to accommodate all of us. We nicknamed it “Coney Island.”

One particular day, we took an elderly lady from our church family with us to pick blackberries. At some point, we decided to have some fun with our guest. We informed our elderly friend that Coney Island was in the middle of the stream. Her remark was, “I always wondered where it was. Now I know.”

We had a great laugh behind her back, but whether or not the laugh was on her or on us, I am not sure. Had she asked us much more about it, our giggling probably would have given us away, but instead she just went along with our mischief and nothing more was ever said.

Our attempt to fool our friend was fairly harmless, as we were just children, but there is one who is trying to deceive the souls of men, and his lies carry eternal consequences. When we picture the devil deceiving men, our first thought might be of those who are tricked into witchcraft or some other blatantly evil religion, but that is usually not the case. Our enemy often appears innocent and trustable—but he is just the opposite. Unlike my siblings and me, the devil’s intention is to hurt and destroy. In Matthew 7:15, we are warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

In light of such a description, how can we test false prophets? We are instructed to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). That means we can ask God for discernment about people and teachings before choosing to believe them. Comparing them to God’s Word and asking for His guidance will reveal who are actually wolves masquerading as sheep. In time, the traits of the wolf will inevitably be seen—the fangs, the hot breath, the flashing eyes, the growl—all proving that the false prophet had a pretentious profession but no possession.

The Bible says that those who love not the truth and who find pleasure in unrighteousness will have strong delusion and believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). If we are to survive these days when false prophets “wax worse and worse,” we must maintain our love for the truth.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for giving me a love for Your truth, and for the assurance it gives me that as I follow You, I have fellowship with You. Amen.