Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6 ESV)
When I was younger I had a hard time discerning false teachers and false prophets because they would use the name Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit, and God just like I would expect any other true believer would. People would say to me, “They preach Jesus, so they must be OK.” But in my spirit I felt the Holy Spirit saying otherwise. Then I began to read very carefully and dissect the Word of God. As I did I came across three verses that helped me get on my way to understanding these false prophets and teachers and the fact they were not of the Spirit of truth, but of the spirit of error:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 ESV)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9 ESV)
Wow, “Even if an angel from heaven”! That really opened my eyes. Then I looked at ‘discerning of spirits’ which is one of the 9 gifts given to the church by the Holy Spirit and said, “Wow” again. Why would God give that gift if it wasn’t really hard to discern certain spirits?
With that said, I want to go back to 1 John 4:5-6 where it says, “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” Bingo! They may speak the name of Jesus, but they speak it with a worldly twist. I believe there are many mega-ministry preachers, false prophets, and false teachers out there that might have truly started off knowing the LORD Jesus Christ. But, they were enticed away by the world, its riches, and all it has to offer. They now preach a twisted gospel and promise prosperity to those that invest in their ministries. They keep the masses of misguided Christians coming back by their positive only message, entertaining antics, deceptive healings, and imparting a false spirit through their so-called ‘slaying’ people in the spirit.
A big problem is that it draws many away from the local church body, thus disobeying the command to fellowship.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT)
Following these false prophets, false teachers, and mega-ministries is not fellowshipping. Many rob the local churches of the tithes, offerings, and dedication they were meant to receive.
I have come to recognize that these false workers have learned to suppress the Spirit of God. They may not have become in-dwelt by the spirit of antichrist (that is why they can still use all the Christian buzzwords) but they have succumbed to the spirit of error:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (I John 2:15-16 NKJV)
The Bible teaches us that we battle three things: the world, the flesh and the devil. All three of these are intertwined to a point. As Christians each of us is affected to different degees. Some of us are influenced at different times depending on our weaknesses which we must overcome. Others are oppressed continuously. The difference between Christians and non-christians is the fact that Christians can only be influenced and oppressed, where as non-christians can become driven all the way to possession by a spirit of the antichrist.
The following is a tremendous lesson that a Christian can definitely operate with the wrong motives:
But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” (Acts 8:9-24 NKJV)
Please observe the fact that the Word of God says that Simon had become a believer and was baptized! Notice how Peter warned Simon that his heart was still not right. Another ‘Wow’ statement!
The reason why I write so many warnings on this website about false teachers, false prophets, and mega-ministries is because I believe that they truly rob the local church of what it was designed to do by the Lord Jesus Christ. Going all the way back to the Book of Acts, Jesus loved all the local bodies that fellowshipped in His name. They were like families in nature and were bonded by unity and love. Fellowshipping is so important and can only occur in local churches where believers become close-knit in love and unity and share with each other. It cannot occur when someone is a spectator to these false prophets, false teachers, and mega-ministries. Please think about this.
“It is true that we cannot put God in a box. But remember this, that God will never operate outside the box of His Word. It is heartwrenching that Christians dare seek God outside this box with strange fire.” (anonymous)
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord , which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord , and devoured them, and they died before the Lord . (Leviticus 10:1-2 KJV)