Recall that in response to His disciples’ question for when the temple would be destroyed and their request for the sign of His coming and the end of the age, the first thing Jesus warned about was being misled by false Christs (Mat 24:4). These would appeal to the worldly desires of people for a worldly salvation that caused them to reject the true salvation from sin He came to bring that alone is able to provide the complete deliverance from evil that people seek in the Messiah’s kingdom; cf. Luk 19:41-44. The false hope of the false Christs’ promises would be especially appealing in times of great tribulation, such as those He has just described would consume the harlot city of God that prostitutes itself with the world (Mat 24:15-22, cf. Rev 17-18). Knowing that their false promises would appeal even to His own disciples in such difficulties, Jesus has now again warned that when He comes in judgment upon the wicked and people are enticed to suppose the Christ is going to appear here or there to save them from their enemies, they should not believe it (Mat 24:23,26). For in that day of His wrath upon the wicked there will be none but Him who is able to deliver, and His deliverance will not be apart from the salvation from sin which He has already accomplished and that is actually working itself out in such circumstances through the ministry of His Word to bring His enemies into subjection under His feet while He is at rest at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Hence, the false promises of false Christs and false prophets are actually a part of the great delusion that God sends to gather the wicked onto the broad road that will lead to their destruction in the day of judgment, exactly as happened to the Jews in 70 a.d. For having rejected the true salvation of the true Christ and looking instead for a worldly salvation, they were led by false Christs and false prophets to a worldly Jerusalem. But rather than being the security and salvation they hoped for it became for them a trap from which they could not escape and the means of their destruction. Hence with great emphasis Jesus warns His disciples to not go after them; Mat 24:23-26.
With what power of deceit and delusion that has a form of godliness and appeals to men’s fallen nature will false Christs and false prophets be able to mislead people, so that Jesus warns so emphatically not to believe them? See Mat 24:24. If the power of delusion is so great as to deceive even God’s choicest servants, what must become of those whose Christian walk is marked by pretense and who serve Him with less than a sincere faith, a pure heart, and a good conscience (1Ti 1:5)? How much more will it take in the godless and wicked? Cf. 1Pe 4:17-18. What does this remind us about the way the Lord winnows the hearts of people in the time of His harvest, separating the wheat from the chaff? Cf. Mat 3:11-12, 2Th 2:9-12. What does this remind us about the reason why Jesus has warned His disciples so emphatically against false Christs and false prophets?
What is meant by “great signs and wonders”? See the NAS text note, but also observe that a sign is anything “by which a person or thing is distinguished from others and known” (Thayers Greek Lexicon); cf. Mat 24:3, 26:48, Luk 2:12, 2Th 3:17. Signs and wonders are most often miraculous happenings such as those performed by Christ and His disciples to validate the truth they proclaimed; see Joh 2:11,23, 3:2, 6:2,14, 7:31, 9:16, 11:47, 12:17-18, 20:30-31, Act 2:22,43, 4:16,22,30, 5:12, 6:8, 7:36, 8:6,13, 14:3, 15:12, 2Co 12:12, Heb 2:3-4. Notice though that such signs are given only to the pure in heart, not to those whose hearts are adulterous: Mat 12:38-39, 16:1-4, Luk 23:8. How does this help us to understand why worldly scoffers will never acknowledge God’s miracles? Think: Will they ever see one? Notice also that signs and wonders need not be miraculous per se, but may also be rare or remarkable occurrences that are simply unusual in the sense that they are exceptions to the normal course of events that usually occur, such as eclipses of the sun and moon, comets, etc… Thus when such things happen in conjunction with some event they serve as a sign of its significance; see Luk 21:11,25, Act 2:19-20, and cf. Mat 27:45,50-51,54. Considering the miraculous or near-miraculous nature of signs and wonders, what are we to understand about the power of the delusion with which false Christs and false prophets will be able to mislead, if possible, even God’s most select and choicest servants by great signs and wonders?