This year’s tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., provided opportunities to reflect on the horrendous events that changed the course of our country and the world.
On the morning of September 11, terrorists hijacked four commercial jets and attempted to fly them into several U.S. targets. One of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11, crashed into Tower One of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into Tower Two at 9:03 a.m. These terrorist attacks caused the death of approximately 3,000 men, women, and children from nations around the world.
False Flags Phenomenon
While I read about and reflected on this tragedy, the term false flag kept surfacing. False flag operations are covert operations conducted by a country (or individual[s]) designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by another country or entity. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors or flags of a country other than one’s own. Numerous sources and Web sites purport that the events related to September 11 were false flag operations.
Whether reports concerning covert operations and conspiracies purportedly connected with the September 11 attacks are true or false, false flag operations have occurred during times of war and peace.
What caught my attention was the spiritual analogy of the false flag phenomenon. The Bible speaks of false flags, or deceptions, by false prophets that will be used against believers in the days before Christ’s second coming (see Matt. 24:11). Further, the risk is that the very elect may be deceived (verse 24).
How can we avoid being deceived by the spiritual false flags contrived by Satan, his agents, or those brought on by our own doing?
False Flags Insulation
Believers can prevent falling prey to false flags and deception in the following three ways:
First, prayerfully resolve to pursue truth more than anything else. Jesus said, “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17). That word “sanctify” is loaded. It means that when we sincerely pursue truth, we open ourselves to be consecrated, holy, separated, set apart from the world and brought into the sacred sphere of God’s providence. The study of God’s Word is more than learning or relearning truth; it allows us to be drawn into a saving relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Second, be willing to commit to truth wherever it leads. Commitment to truth is achieved not by the pursuit of truth, but by a resolve to obey truth. The formula is simple: read, explain, apply, live the Word. This helps to protect us from false flags and their effects. Paul articulated this principle with his words “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).
Third, pursue and practice truth so as to insulate and fortify against deception. This is clearly outlined by Ellen White in The Great Controversy: “Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and derided. . . . In order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His word; they can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government, and purposes, and act in accordance with them. None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? . . . Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable word? Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?” (pp. 593, 594, italics supplied).
Grounded in truth, by God’s grace we can handle the spiritual false flags that we may have to face.
Delbert W. Baker is a general vice president of the General Conference. This article was published December 22, 2011.