Increasing deception will mark the "end time." At a certain point, these deceptions will be augmented by signs and wonders—miracles! Whether they are true miracles or not, we do not know. Satan has the ability to do certain things of that nature. Whatever they are, they will seem to give credence to the ideas of the people who are doing them. If we are not careful, even the elect—if possible—could be deceived.
This phrase "if possible" has made some people wonder, "Can the elect be deceived?" Well, it is kind of a trick question. If they are deceived, then they are not the elect! This is because the elect do something that keeps them from being deceived! It is not as if God says, "Here's this one group. I am not going to let them be deceived." That is not how it works. They are the elect because they do not allow themselves to be deceived.
So it is not possible to deceive the elect. It is not because these people have a special "safety net" around them, so that they cannot be deceived. They cannot be deceived because they will not let themselves be deceived, which is why they are the elect. They are working hard so that they will not be deceived. And that is the group that we want to be part of.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
In each case, Christ's admonition is that we should have a healthy skepticism of miracles because miracles may produce deception. It is not that the miracle does not occur. The more important point is, does it witness to the truth? Does it witness to the ultimate reality, the will of God?
In both Jesus' instruction in the New Testament (Matthew 24:24; 7:22-23; Revelation 13:13-14) and in Moses' teaching in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 13:1-5), it is clear—regardless of the wonder done—if a person even implies that we are free to disobey God, the miracle is not a demonstration of God's truth. A miracle it was, but it does not validate God's truth.
We must be especially skeptical of those who say that they believe in keeping God's laws, and then turn right around and say that the Sabbath and holy days are no longer necessary and that "true Christians" can keep Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc. But they "believe" that they are to keep God's laws! It is especially deceptive because so many of such people are really nice individuals.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Is God a Magician?
In verses 23-28, Jesus sounds a warning to those who are so eager for His return: Do not be snookered by those who claim that Christ has returned. He is not out in the desert or hiding in some inner room. He cautions us that “false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (verse 24). We need to be discerning about the information we swallow.
We can extend this in principle to cover those who think they know when, how, or where Christ will return. These are only distractions and deceptions because He has told us Himself what to look for. His return will not be secret or sneak up on us! It will be a tremendous show, as it were, like a massive flash of lightning and a roll of thunder that encompasses the whole of the sky (verse 27). His coming will be a worldwide phenomenon that no one will be able to miss. And it will happen during a time of war (verse 28).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The End Is Not Yet