DECEIVERS & FALSE PROPHETS AMONG US
S A M P L E C H A P T E R
C H A P T E R O N E
“Beware of False Prophets”
The Divine Guarantee of Counterfeit
Leaders & Their Subversion of Truth
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily (secretly) shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” 2 Peter 2:1-2
Notice the promise given us here: “there shall be false teachers among you.” This is a definitive statement - “there SHALL be false teachers among you.”
The Son of God warned:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening (devouring) wolves. Ye shall know (discern) them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15-16
“Beware.” This Scriptural instruction is seldom found on a refrigerator door in a Christian household, yet maybe it should be, to keep us alert to our need for vigilance and discernment concerning the reality of those in our midst who are “false prophets” and operate in “sheep’s clothing” and yet are “ravening (devouring) wolves.”
Is it not possible that Jesus is alerting and warning His people that the very leaders, to whom you and I now listen, are deceivers among us? Doesn’t His statement make this obvious? Who will we trust and serve, the One who bled for us and is soon to return, or those who claim to be leading us in the right way?
In the most basic sense, a true prophet is simply one who represents the LORD from a pure heart and according His Word, whereas a false prophet misrepresents the LORD by his refusal to adhere to the teachings of Christ and His apostles.
In this same text, Jesus told us we would know all leaders according to the “fruit” of their lives and this includes whether or not they teach the pure Word of God or not (Matt. 7:15-20). It simply does not matter how upstanding, educated, well-spoken or popular a man is – he is still only a man, and if he is not establishing God’s Word in the hearts of people, he is false.
“Sheep’s clothing” – Whether knowingly or unknowingly, “wolves” labor among God’s people undetected by most. Stealth deceivers could be their nomenclature. Those who are convicted to love and serve their LORD to the end discern the false from the true and leave, while the unsuspecting remain and unknowingly endanger their own lives and perhaps the lives of others.
“Inwardly” - God looks on the heart, not the outward appearance (1 Sam. 16:7). In walking close to the LORD, we must seek and learn to see things the way He does. He plainly reveals to us here that there are those among us who pose as His and yet are leading His sheep into deception and ultimately destruction.
“Ravening (devouring) wolves” - Many in the church world today are not even aware of and/or do not perceive the severity of the Master’s warning. Remaining under the leadership of a devouring wolf (or wolves) who exists to destroy God’s sheep, can be deadly. In general, the wolf disguised by his sheep’s clothing, is simply a person in leadership who refuses to obey the Word of God, specifically in the doctrinal essentials (Jn. 8:47; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; 2 Cor. 11:1-4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 3 Jn. 9-12). The written Word of God has always been and will always be the primary way the LORD Jesus Christ leads His true followers (Mark 13:31; Jn. 10:35; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:16-21, Rev. 22:18-19).
In his book The Great Gospel Deception, David Kirkwood writes:
“False teachers are very deceptive. They have some exterior indications of being genuine. They may call Jesus their Lord, prophesy, cast out demons and perform miracles. However, the ‘sheep’s clothing’ only hides the ‘ravenous wolf.’ They aren’t of the true sheep. How can it be known if they are true or false? Their true character can be known by examining their ‘fruits.’
What are the fruits of which Jesus was speaking? They are the fruits of obedience to all He has taught. Those who are true, teach and do the will of the Father. Those who are false, teach what is not true and ‘practice lawlessness’ (7:23). Our responsibility, then, is to compare their teaching and lives with what Jesus taught and commanded.
False teachers abound today in the church, and we should not be surprised, because both Jesus and Paul forewarned us that, as the end approaches, we should expect nothing less (see Matt. 24:11; 2 Tim. 4:3-4). The most prevalent false prophets of our day are those who teach that heaven awaits the unholy. They are responsible for the eternal damnation of millions of people. Of them, John Wesley wrote:
‘How terrible is this!-when the ambassadors of God turn agents for the devil! – when they who are commissioned to teach men the way to heaven do in fact teach them the way to hell…If it be asked, Why, who ever did…this?…I answer, Ten thousand wise and honourable men; even all those, of whatever denomination, who encourage the proud, the trifler, the passionate, the lover of the world, the man of pleasure, the unjust or unkind, the easy, careless, harmless, useless creatures, the man who suffers no reproach for righteousness’ sake, to imagine he is in the way to heaven. These are false prophets in the highest sense of the word. These are traitors both to God and man…They are continually peopling the realms of the night; and whenever they follow the poor souls they have destroyed, ‘hell shall be moved from beneath to met them at their coming!’” p. 164, 165
Honesty Is Essential to Kingdom Learning
Saint of the LORD, before we continue, please allow a somewhat parenthetical assertion here, which will assuredly optimize this read. Being a truthful person, void of the predisposition of bias, is imperative to prosperous learning in God’s kingdom. Such is foundational to authentic learning and fruitfulness and demonstrates before the Supreme Court of the Universe, the absence of the sinful idolatry of mere men. Many of us are grossly steeped in what Christ and Paul termed “the doctrines of men” and we don’t even realize it (Mk. 7:7-9; Col. 2:22). Let us establish that in order to “grow” in the LORD, we are to “desire” and pour over the oracles of God and “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21) “The sincere milk of the word” is to be consumed and when it is, spiritual nutrients fill the heart (1 Pet. 2:2). The true, born-again believer will hunger for the spiritual food of God’s Word. In order to glorify God by knowing why we believe what we believe, we must embark upon being more deeply rooted in the divine truth of holy Writ.
Especially in light of this guaranteed last days epidemic of beguilers and their false teachings, it is essential that we become more doctrinally intensive in order to more perfectly serve the One we love (Acts 18:24-26; 2 Jn. 7-9). Without the sincere resolve to know God’s Word, it is evident that one possesses “no root in themselves” and is going to forfeit the blessed apprehension of divine truth and place his own soul in grave danger of deception (Mk. 4:17). The upright character trait of honesty when looking at God’s Word, is essential to fruitful learning and living in the kingdom (Lk. 8:15).
“Thou shalt not wrest (pervert, twist, dilute) judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” Deuteronomy 16:19-20
In this all-important text, God instructs His people concerning divine truth and how they are to handle it. Note in particular: “thou shalt not respect persons…That which is altogether just shalt thou follow.”
Beloved, one must be sincerely willing to stop and make the grounded determination that the LORD truly is his God, and that the words, personalities, and teachings of all mere men (people in places of spiritual leadership) are vastly inferior and less aggrandized than the words of the Almighty. Such repentance from this subtle and deadly idolatry will include laying the axe to the root of the esteeming of best-selling authors and influential speakers. We must realize that hero worship is plainly spiritual adultery and actually causes our hearts to depart from the only One worthy of our heart worship and affections (Hos. 4:11).
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:3-5
When His twelve asked Jesus what would be the “sign” of His return, the very first thing He revealed and promised as a sign of the end of this age would be deceivers who came in His name (using His name) bearing messages to deceive “many.” This perhaps can apply to those evil emissaries who work within and outside of the church world. Many have claimed “I am Christ.” One particular world religion has as its head a “Pope” who is said to be the Vicar of Christ, or the one on earth who takes the place of Christ. More on this later (2 Thess. 2:9-12).
The Son of God warned “Take heed that no man deceive you.” To the believer, the deceiver who is operating within the church world, posing as a true servant of Christ, offers by far the most dangerous threat. This is what Jesus was talking about when He spoke of wolves who wear sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15-23).
Who are the agents He warned would come to give persuasive, seducing, delusions and messages which would deceive “many”?
“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Revelation 3:11
The Son of God warns here to “hold fast” to Him and to allow “no man” to “take thy crown.”
It is unfortunate that most in leadership today refuse to teach on the subject of the end times. God’s people would be so blessed to know the very first and most prevalent sign of the last days. Is this not amazing that we have refused to inform them? Isn’t it amazing that we seldom hear this cornerstone and safeguarding truth of the end times that Christ provided? According to the LORD Jesus, the most prevalent sign that would indicate that His return is coming soon is the manifestation of deceivers! Isn’t it high-time that His Word on this matter is made known?
This epidemic of evil being perpetrated in Christ’s very name is far too important to overlook. So, let us review and make sure this word sinks down into our hearts (Luke 9:44). What did the LORD say would be the most obvious sign of the end and of the soon return of Jesus Christ to the earth? In the most popular chapter on the return of Christ in the entire Bible, the disciples of Christ asked Him an all-important question and He answered them clearly. Can we read it again?
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:3-5
The warning is two-fold: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”
Deception through the vehicle of men is the very first sign that the return of the LORD is near. – “Take heed that no man deceive you.”
“Beware of men.” Matthew 10:17
Most people, especially born-again believers, would like to think the best of people around them, especially their leaders. But Jesus warned us to beware and not to serve men but God alone (Lk. 4:8).
“Many,” Not a Few
Deception through self-appointed leaders bearing false witness of themselves is the second earmark of deceivers.
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:5
In order to cause His remnant to awake to the grave danger of those who “shall deceive many,” the Son of God goes on to lace this last days’ narrative with warnings of false prophets.
“And many (not a few) false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many (not a few).” Matthew 24:11
Here Jesus promised that not a few, but “many false prophets shall rise” and “shall deceive many.”
Fundamentally, the Master desires to embed in His people the reality of false prophets who look like they are His yet aren’t. Christ’s goal and desire is that we be not deceived by these “false brethren” working amidst His people (2 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 2:4).
“And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.” Luke 21:8
Christ repeatedly foretold that in the final days of this age “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders (lying signs and wonders); insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24)
In iteration and warning concerning these last days in which we live, our LORD revealed that “many (not a few) false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” (Matt. 24:11)
The apostle John states:
“For many deceivers are entered into the world….” 2 John 7
Of all those who fill pulpits, write books, speak on radio programs, and produce any number of Christian media communications, isn’t it amazing that so little is ever stated about the danger and prevalence of deceivers and false teachings in this last day? In fact, to the contrary, at the same time so many crassly neglect warning God’s people of deceivers, some even teach that these last days will bring a great revival. This is in stark contradiction to the prophesied “falling away” of the final days (2 Thess. 2:3).
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
Preceding the manifestation of the Antichrist, “the son of perdition,” the Holy Spirit warned us that there would “come a falling away first.” It seems apparent that the LORD’s people must be blindfolded and the truth must be shunned in order for this mass deception to occur. According to the biblical revelation, this mass apostasy will come and is presently well under way, at the hands of a literal global army of deceived leaders, many who have formed a “conspiracy” against the LORD (Ezek. 22:25).
Should we be surprised that God is angry with leadership? Is His wrath toward leadership a new thing? No, it is an ancient “controversy.” (Isa. 56:10-12; Jer. 23; Ezek. 34; Hos. 4:1-19) Israel’s leaders were throughout the centuries specifically addressed and rebuked, and cited for their evil doings and how they had led astray God’s people (Isa. 9:16).
“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand.” Ezekiel 34:10
“Controversy” is an integral part of walking with the LORD (Ezek. 22:25; 44:23-24). As long as the LORD Almighty allows evil to exist, there will be conflict – until He returns in His time to put all rebellion down. Until then, conflict is a reality, so we must face it in His truth and power as He leads (Ps. 94:16). Since the fall of man, conflict has been and will be until His kingdom is established upon the earth with His full reign (Matt. 11:12; Eph. 1:20-22; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Heb. 2:8; Rev. 12:11).
Make no mistake: there is a conspiracy. Mass apostasy comes at the hands of false teachers and their false teachings, and yet there must be those who believe and support these false teachings in order to facilitate this departure from the faith.
Speaking of “A Foreign Grace,” David Kirkwood, in his book The Great Gospel Deception, says:
“It is not only the fruit of people’s deeds that mark them as false teachers, but also the fruit of their words. If they teach what is contrary to essential New Testament doctrine, they are false teachers.
Of course, no teacher in the church is going to stand up and declare that he is teaching what is contrary to the New Testament. Rather, he will neglect certain important scriptures and twist others to persuade his constituency that he is teaching the truth. This is being done today by many very popular and influential teachers who teach about a grace that is foreign to the Bible. The grace they proclaim is not the true grace that leads to holiness…” p. 230
As David Kirkwood points out here, the false teacher is not going to stand up and announce that he is a wolf. It is the individual believer’s responsibility to discern leaders by the fruit of their teaching. What is not taught (left out of the message) can be more deadly than what is taught. What we don’t know can kill us. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hos. 4:6) To be able to discern one must study the Word diligently and be exercised therein (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16; Heb. 5:11-14). This gross lack of knowledge among those claiming to know the LORD is also an indication that many have not diligently studied the Word of God for themselves, but rather have relied upon their leaders to tell them what God has said. Consequently, so very many have been deluded with a false gospel.
Saint of the LORD, is Jesus Christ important enough to you to learn what He has stated to you in His Word? Is the LORD truly your first love? Are you actively and diligently memorizing Scripture – His words?
“These false teachers literally deny (notice the titles Jude used) the “only Lord God” (Jude 4). Because obedience is, in their minds, optional for those on the way to heaven, Jesus need not be one’s Master and Lord. Thus they deny that He is who He is by their teaching and lifestyles.” The Great Gospel Deception, David Kirkwood, P. 231
“And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.” Hosea 4:9
Mass apostasy was foretold (2 Thess. 2:3; 2 Tim. 4:3-4). When mass departure from the faith occurs, both classes are involved - leader and listener. It takes both parties to complete the circle and conspire against the LORD Almighty. Remember that Lucifer was the very first conspirator against the Almighty and was actually successful in convincing one-third of the angels in Heaven to depart with him (Rev. 12:4). Rebellion against the LORD is a reality today as it has been throughout history, yet there is a remnant, as has also been the case throughout history (1 Kings 18:4, 19).
“For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)…Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.” 1 Kings 18:4, 19
Apparently, as we see in this scenario, the false prophets outnumbered those Obadiah fed 850 to 100.
We are missing the very warnings about deception which we most urgently need. We must not allow our ears to wax heavy amidst the activities of this fleeting life lest we lose out in the end (Lk. 21:34-36).
Is it not utterly astounding that many leaders do not care enough to warn their listeners to “beware of false prophets” and teachers who spawn and perpetuate the multiplicity of deceptions present within the church world today? Perhaps their refusal to warn reveals that some of them do not want to be detected as false themselves.
One of the greatest tragedies is that, in many cases, these “damnable doctrines,” taught by “false teachers” and “false prophets,” go unchecked, unchallenged and unannounced by those in leadership (2 Pet. 2:1). Does such dreadful negligence not make these who refuse to recognize and announce such suspect?
When was the last time you personally heard a message preached warning believers to “beware of false prophets” and to “Beware lest any man spoil you?” (Matt. 7:15; 1 Jn. 4:1; Col. 2:8).
Friend, are you aware that whole chapters of Scripture are dedicated to exposing false prophets? (Deut. 13, Jer. 23, Matthew 23, Ezekiel 22, Ezekiel 34, Jude, 2 Peter 2, Revelation 2 and 3, the end of Isaiah 56 and Philippians 3) The frequency of such divine warnings underscore the vital nature of staying in the doctrine and will of Christ and guarding against the beguilers who “lie in wait to deceive.” (Eph. 4:14) What is staggering is that even though the LORD Himself considered it extremely important to have numerous warnings recorded concerning the prevalence and danger of deceivers and false teachings, today we are hard-pressed to find any of our leaders saying a single word about such an onslaught against the minds and eternal destiny of God’s people. What an outrage! Much is at risk. Who has ordered this gag rule? This can be nothing less than diabolical!
Storm Clouds Have Gathered
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” Ephesians 4:14
Those leaders who are true to God preach, warn, and teach in order to prepare His people for Christ’s soon return (Col. 1:27-29). God’s people are to take personal responsibility to become grounded in His Word so that they can discern, and no more be tossed about by the many and various storm winds of false doctrine blowing through the world of the Church at large. Being grounded in the Word and able to discern truth from error is a mark of maturity.
It is a divine mandate for those who are called to “feed the flock of God” to establish His truth in the hearts of the sheep of the Great Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:2). By hearing and adhering to the pure Word of God, His people are matured and no more as vulnerable to the winds which are blown into the midst of the body of Christ on the wings of an army of false teachers. God’s people are nourished and secured in His truth (Prov. 4:20-24; 30:5; Lk. 4:4; Acts 20:27-32). Those who are not being fed and who are not personally taking time to study the Word of God, are sickly, malnourished, and have become prey to the wolves in our midst. The Psalmist cried:
“O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old…all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary. Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs.” Psalms 74:1-4
Note in the above text that David sought the LORD in weeping because the enemy of souls roared “in the sanctuary…of thy (God’s) congregations.”
The fact alone that the word “beware” appears 14 times in connection with deceivers and deception in the New Testament Scripture is evidence enough that those who don’t openly declare such to the sheep of God's pasture, are at best deceived. It is nothing less than reprehensible that men who stand in places of leadership would not pay attention to and communicate these divinely-inspired warnings. Those who don’t are suspect as those who intentionally and dishonestly dodge truth that does not play into their own personal agenda. It seems that, unlike David, the overwhelming majority of men in leadership positions today do not care nor cry out for the LORD to deliver His people from the enemy and his ravaging lies. They also refuse to awake and warn God’s people with a warning which would otherwise secure His children in the safety of His truth (Prov. 30:5).
Sounding the Alarm
In any developed nation, alarms and meteorologists sound off when storms are approaching, in order to warn the people of that local geographic area to take cover or measures to prevent the harm the coming storm could bring. For sure, the threat is announced loud, clear, and repeatedly in order to warn all of the people to beware and take precaution. Yet, amazingly enough, the most deadly danger in the universe exists in the Church world which threatens the spiritual health and eternal well-being of the very people of God.
In 2005, when hurricane Katrina was approaching the gulf coastal states, the beckoning call to flee was sounded long and loud to those who lived in those areas. Most fled, some stayed. The winds were at 160 MPH, so the severity of the threat was at level 5. Such approaching danger could not be overly stressed, just as the great threat of the hurricane winds of deception rushing upon the coasts of the people of God cannot be over exaggerated.
When some envision deceivers, they picture one who manipulates people out of their earthly monies, yet much more evil are those who rob men of their eternal souls by not leading them to the only One who can save and secure them. One can go to Heaven while poor on earth, but he cannot go to Heaven without possessing and maintaining the riches of Christ’s salvation. Far more insidious and dangerous are those who withhold divine truth and the warning they are supposed to be giving to the souls they are called to feed, oversee, guard, and nurture.
Because they don’t drink in and heed the “more sure word of prophecy,” the Holy Scriptures, many men in leadership today do not see/perceive the storm clouds that have gathered to converge upon the people of God (2 Pet. 1:19-21). We have been warned about the great falling away and the fact that Satan has but a short time and has therefore come down with great wrath upon the saints, yet little or no warning is ever heard amidst the many words of the leaders who forge ahead, building their own names and kingdoms (2 Thess. 2:3; Rev. 12:12). Have you ever wondered if we possess even a clue?
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:17
Like those in Laodicea whom the LORD addressed here, many in leadership positions are pre-occupied with self-interests. These men are blinded, having no idea how separated they are from the LORD. Perhaps these men haven’t fasted even one day for years, don’t read the Bible more than five minutes daily, and have little or no intimacy in their personal prayer lives. Like the leaders of Isaiah’s day, they are greedy and blind and cannot respond to the alarm of God much less give it to the people they oversee.
“His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.” Isaiah 56:10-12
Did you notice the root cause of the blindness of these wayward leaders? Read the above text again and notice the selfishness and self-idolatry of these false prophets the LORD cites. In the final days, the LORD warned us prophetically that there would be those who would have a “form of godliness” and at the same time would be “lovers of their own selves.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Satan is plundering the people of God with numerous cyanide-laced poisons and, like the armies of Israel, most leaders seem to be doing little about it. They are too busy with their own self-life. Like David, the man with a heart that panted after the LORD, and a valiant warrior of Jehovah, we must ask as he did:
“Is there not a cause?” 1 Samuel 17:29
The ‘giant’ of exponential falsehoods are stealing the glory of the Most High and poisoning His very people. Is this not reason enough to be outraged? Why do some take such an atrocity that strikes at the heart of our LORD so lightly and crassly overlook such a deadly threat which causes men to be spiritually spoiled (ruined)? (Col. 2:8) How can this be?! Perhaps the LORD is calling us to revisit and obey Isaiah 58.
False doctrines, peddled by wolves in sheep’s clothing, place the souls of men in danger of hell fire. Friend, speaking specifically of the very last days, the divinely inspired terms “doctrines of devils” and “damnable heresies” clearly communicate to us that there are devils behind certain doctrines and they will damn the souls of those who buy into them (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Pet. 2:1). Furthermore, it is essential to remain in Christ and in His doctrines and to give no approval to falsehoods, but to remain in right standing with God (2 John 9-10). How needed are those who love Christ and His body enough to obey the mandate to establish His truth and warn His people to beware!
Should we be surprised that God is angry with leadership? Is His wrath toward leadership among His people a new thing? No, it is ancient. Israel’s leaders were throughout the centuries specifically addressed and rebuked, and cited explicitly for their evil doings.
“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand.” Ezekiel 34:10
Would it be wrong for the government of any nation to neglect to warn their own people of certain cataclysmic events they have knowledge of? If information of an attack was known prior to the violence transpiring, and the government didn’t warn the people, would the people of that nation be justified in their outrage? Thousands of lives could be at stake. Would the withholding of known information by our political leaders concerning an attack on America be criminal treason? The answer is obvious.
Israeli, American, and British intelligence of criminal terrorist activities is the best in the world. Having intelligence of a terrorist plot to kill and maim the citizens of a nation, makes it a moral obligation binding upon the entity that possesses that information. At best, it would be contemptuous to withhold such vital data, which would lead to the prevention of many casualties. On the other hand, a national agency, having been informed of a planned terrorist attack at a certain location and time, which doesn’t divulge that information to the people, has committed treason and is responsible for the harm that comes upon that people. The written laws of civilized nations include the criminal act of conspiring to withhold information and obstruct justice. Such is contemptuous and criminal.
In the same way, if those who hold positions of spiritual leadership, armed with numerous scriptural intelligence warnings of evil emissaries and their teachings, do not warn God’s people, they are conspiring with the enemy of all souls and placing themselves under the judgment of a holy divine Shepherd. These leaders have refused to arm themselves and warn according to the divinely breathed intelligence report once delivered to the saints of Christ in holy Writ. The refusal of leaders to warn God’s people of those terrorists whom He repeatedly guaranteed would creep in secretly and sow deadly poisons is criminal.
If the officials of your city possessed intelligence of a terror attack planned against your neighborhood and refused to warn the people, how would you feel if such an attack came and killed and maimed many? Would you feel outraged? Would you now feel violated? Would you feel vulnerable or safe and secure?
Are you outraged?
Friend, are there not people being spiritually destroyed due to the refusal of those in leadership to warn, according to the perfect divine source of intelligence, God’s Word? The apostle Paul clearly told us that warning was an integral part of the divine calling mandated upon true shepherds (Col. 1:27-29; 2:8).
Consider the divine mandate upon those in leadership and the severe consequence for not warning:
“But if the watchman (leader) see the sword come (judgment coming), and blow not the trumpet (warn), and the people be not warned; if the sword (judgment) come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” Ezekiel 33:6
Men who refuse to warn of the evil winds of doctrine blowing upon the people of God are liable before the holy Judge of the Supreme Court of the Universe. Without repentance and life change, these men will be found guilty of causing many of God’s blood-bought people to go astray. Such gross negligence is criminal and will be punishable at the Judgment seat.
“Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.” Proverbs 28:10
The absence of such warning transmitting from supposed men of God is nothing less than criminal.
If Paul Warned, Why Don’t Leaders Today Warn?
Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ, sets forth the standard for all who will be true to the LORD in their leadership:
“…Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” Colossians 1:27-29
The Holy Spirit empowered Paul to preach about Jesus while also warning and teaching. Paul openly announced here that his calling was to preach, warn, and teach. That’s right, we are instructed to preach, warn and teach. - Not just preach and teach, but also to warn. This is the Gospel calling, and anyone who will please the LORD will do all three of these things when ministering. Does this mean that a third of what we do should be to warn? Think about it.
The apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders:
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:29-30
It should be noted here that this great apostle of Jesus was deeply concerned with safeguarding the souls of God’s people, thus this explicit prophetic warning that extends to all Christians of the New Testament era. He told the Philippian believers that he did “write the same things.” (Phil. 3:1) Paul continually reiterated the pillar doctrines of Christ. This apostle of Jesus stated that such continual reestablishing of eternal truth was “safe” for the Philippian Christians. This servant of God was a safeguard to the people of God by teaching and continually infusing divine truth in them.
Counterfeit ministers in prominence are the very first sign that our LORD’s return is near. Why then do those in leadership seldom if ever tend to this Biblically prevalent doctrine today? This utterly astounds me personally. As I read through the New Testament, I witness the multiplicity of warnings concerning deceivers and false prophets and marvel that this is almost never mentioned much less taught in the church world today! Wow! Where is the protective concern in our leaders? Are they so busy serving their own selfish, ego-driven appetites that they have no heart for God’s sheep?
Was Jesus lying when He told us that there would be “many false prophets” cloaked in “sheep’s clothing”? (Matt. 7:15) If we truly believe upon Jesus, we should embrace all of His Counsel, and we are mandated to divulge it (Mk. 8:38).
Here is a partial Bible list by term of the type of counterfeit leaders to beware of in this last hour:
- False prophets (term appears 7 times: Matt. 7:15; 24:11,24; Mk. 13:22; Lk. 6:26; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 Jn. 4:1)
- False teachers (2 Pet. 2:1)
- False apostles (2 Cor. 11:13; Rev. 2:2)
- Deceivers (Job 12:16; Mal. 1:14; Tit. 1:10; 2 Jn.7)
If Jesus Warned, Why Don’t Leaders Today Warn?
The deafening silence of those who lead today enables deceivers and false teachings and allows for God’s people to be led astray. Carte blanche access has been given to Satan’s emissaries who wear sheep’s clothing to distort, deceive, and bring ultimate damnation. Leaders (and all believers) are mandated and responsible to warn, in obedience to Christ.
On many occasions, Christ warned of false prophets and deception. Anyone who is following Him should be doing the same – in an attempt to protect those who are His. The Son of God made a public announcement, warning all to “Beware” of the writers of His day and at all times:
“Then in the audience of all the people he said unto his disciples, Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a show make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.” Luke 20:45-47
The Method of Deception
Plainly Christ warned “Beware of the scribes.” The Greek word here for “scribe” is grammateus, which means a writer, i.e., (professionally), a scribe or secretary. As in Christ’s days on earth, we should be very careful of the writers of today, the modern-day scribes who write books, many of which are best-sellers that fill the shelves of Christian bookstores. In my estimation, the modern church world today clearly demonstrates its lack of discernment and apostasy by the way it neglects the 66 books of the Bible and runs after deceptive and doctrinally misleading and heretical fad books. Specific resources are available concerning some of these fad books at www.SafeGuardYourSoul.com.
Discernment is a landmark of spiritual maturity and to be sought for by all believers. It is the duty of all leaders to foster such in those they lead (Col. 2; Rev 3:18).
“Let no man deceive you with vain words.” Ephesians 5:6
The apostle Paul here warns us that false prophets, who are prevalent in our midst, deceive through words. Also, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the apostle Peter and Jude penned these words of warning:
“For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.” 2 Peter 2:18
“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” Jude 1:16
The Test of Deception
You may be asking: Why would the LORD allow such deceivers and deception to operate and even abound? Here is the reason:
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” 1 Corinthians 11:19
Apparently, we have a glimpse into the mind of God here concerning the dividing purpose of truth and lies. He ultimately rules over deceivers and their deceptions. If one can be led astray from the LORD by false teachings and false prophets, it is because his heart is simply not in right standing with the LORD. The true disciples of Christ are made “manifest” by embracing the truth of God’s Word amidst the many deceptions that abound in the church world in this last hour. In contrast, those who are not true in their heart of hearts to the LORD, even though they have an outward appearance of serving Him, will be taken in by the deceptions of the last day false prophets and their deceptive teachings, luring them to serve the lusts of their own flesh.
“For there are certain men crept in unawares (undiscerned; not noticed by most), who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness (in their teachings), and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 4
Ultimately, the LORD created all and is in charge of all.
“With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his.” Job 12:16
It is undeniable that there are and will be those who will be drawn away from the truth after having known it:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly (clearly), that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” 1 Timothy 4:1-3
To religious people (those who are religious but don’t know Jesus), Christ states:
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44
Satan knows he only has a short time to use his tool of deception to lure us away from the LORD, so he has come down with great wrath through the use of many a media method and messenger.
“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Revelation 12:12
Remaining in the Truth
We are to nurture and remain in the truth of the Gospel of Christ until the end of our lives.
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth (remaineth) not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 9
It is imperative that we also help others to hearken to the voice of the LORD and escape the fate of the “many” who are being deluded all around us.
“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained…Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” 1 Timothy 4:6, 16
As “a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith,” other “brethren” are to “hear thee…(and) put the brethren in remembrance” of “the words of faith.”
The Danger of Being Led Astray
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” 2 Peter 3:17
Even though the New Testament and Old are replete with such warnings, it may be the very first time anyone has ever pointed out to you that God has promised that there would be “many false prophets” in our day and that you are personally in danger of being led astray if you don’t guard your heart with His Word.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try (test; examine) the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
Because of the numerous revelations from our LORD, we understand that there are “many false prophets” who are “gone out into the world.” And, in the complete absence of any such statement in Holy Scripture of many true prophets, we should be left to understand that the false far outnumber the true. The Bible simply never hints, much less promises, that there would ever be many true prophets or servant-leaders. The phrase “many false prophets” appears in Scripture, yet the term “many true prophets” never does. By simple deduction of what we read in Holy Scripture, we know that there are “many” false and few true godly leaders in the world.
“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:11
If the Apostle John Warned, Why Don’t Leaders Today Warn?
False prophets are simply identified by the fruit of their lives which would include the falsehoods they teach, leading the righteous away from the LORD and His ways. Identifying, staying clear of them, and helping others discern, are all-important tasks in this last hour before Christ returns. Consider the pastoral words of the apostle John in warning those he wrote to then and now to be careful of “them that seduce you.”
“These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” 1 John 2:26-28
With all confidence, John assures all believers of the “anointing,” which is the presence of the Holy Ghost indwelling us. John confirms that the Holy Ghost will lead us into all truth, as we abide in the LORD and His Word. It is when we are continuing in the doctrine and life of the LORD Jesus Christ that “we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1 Jn. 2:26-28)
Each and every follower of Jesus Christ is personally responsible to remain in the truth, living in the clear doctrines of Holy Scripture given to us by our Maker and Redeemer. In his book entitled Life In the Son, Dr. Robert Shank pens these words:
“John warns his dear children in the faith against the efforts of apostates to lead them astray through false doctrines, exhorting them to ‘Let that therefore abide (remain) in you, which ye have heard from the beginning [the true Gospel]. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.’ (1 Jn. 2:24-25. Cf II Tim. 3:13-15, Col. 1:21-23).
It is the testimony of our Savior and the New Testament writers that an initial reception of the word of the Gospel must be followed by faithful retention, if men are to continue in the saving grace of Christ and the eternal life of God.” P. (Shank, Robert Lee, Life in the Son, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1960. pp. 33-34)
The Promised Increase of Deceivers
We also discover from a reading of the New Testament that, the closer we get to the end, the greater will be the proliferation of deceivers and their deceptions.
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:13
For some reason, unknown fully to this writer, it appears from Scripture and my own perspective of experience, that so many people, who get into ministry, simply are not rooted in God in a real way. Perhaps, many who enter into ministry are zealous and driven, yet may not realize motives which are foreign to the will of God.
Some, at least in part, enter into ministry service viewing it as a profession instead of being impelled by divinely instilled holy passion for His people. When we are not led of the Holy Spirit to do full-time ministry, will we inevitably serve ourselves utilizing this profession as a means to personal gain? Is it not His will that each of His children be led by His Spirit in the divine call which He has for their individual lives?
Like Judas and others listed in Scripture, many of those in ministry have already fallen away and certainly many more to come will also. The dangerous aspect of this fact is that many of those who have fallen away in their hearts still remain in positions of leadership. Does this not allow the enemy to truly operate through them to mislead others?
In most cases, these men have enlisted themselves into the army of Satan by simply neglecting their own personal relationship with the One who bought them with His perfect blood (2 Pet. 2:1-3).
In this late hour in which the love of many is waxing cold toward the LORD and His people, the 6 o’clock news and general media have more to report concerning fallen ministers than ever before. Is this not a fulfillment of the prophecy of our Savior?
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:10-13
The faithful follower of Christ will lay down his life to serve God and others fully, escaping the snare of the fowler by the precious divine grace imparted into his life (1 Pet. 1:5; Rev. 2-3).
The danger of falling away is a reality according to our LORD. Jesus said that there would be those who “have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.” (Mk. 4:17)
The LORD Jesus Christ personally promised Judas an eternal throne in Heaven, yet this fallen man kissed the gates of glory and turned and marched right into the bowels of unending damnation (Matt. 19:28).
It is obvious that some do not get into the ministry for the LORD, but more for themselves, which ultimately sets them up to become false. Like Judas, many today start out true and end up spiritually bankrupt (Acts 1:25; 1 Tim. 1:19; 6:10).
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 3-4
“Believe Not Every Spirit”
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try (test) the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
Deceivers and deceptions are promised. Any person who believes “every spirit,” that is, every person who comes in the name of the LORD, is simply in direct disobedience to the command of God clearly stated here in 1 John 4:1 - “Believe NOT every spirit.”
“It is no sin to doubt some things, but it may be fatal to believe everything.” ~ A.W. Tozer
Na´vety is to be pitied, not esteemed nor counted as humility or bliss. There is a clear biblical case against being na´ve. Here is a mere sampling of biblical truth, which details such:
“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” Proverbs 14:15
In order to weaken the strength of the true Church, Satan wants to attack the very place that the LORD designed to build up His people “for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-13). The main purpose of the church building is for the assembling of the believers to equip them for the work of the ministry – that is, so they can go out and be lights for Jesus in their daily lives. In an article entitled, The Seeker-Friendly Way of Doing Church, T.A. McMahon writes:
“The church is for the maturing and equipping of the saints, who then go out to reach the lost.”
Beloved, be not deceived. It is unfortunately observable that most local churches are nothing more than social clubs which entertain their audiences and seek to accommodate the sins of men in their language and programs. Everything seems to be honored except Christ and His words. Dispersed abroad in your community and in mine, in church buildings, on television, radio, in books, and various media, are false prophets, teachers and deceivers who “lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14).
“These pastors put on shows that totally mock or minimize the greatness of God. The root of it is self-love, they have become ‘movie stars’ seeking self-praise in the name of ‘greatness.’ But they are clouds without water.” Bill Wegener
Jesus told us to “look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh,” when we see these things happening before our eyes (Lk. 21:28). Fret not beloved, but rather rejoice! This all must transpire that the ultimate end of evil and beginning of Christ’s perfect reign might come to pass.
God has only one people and the visible church is not the true Heaven-bound remnant church. This has always been the case, as is observable with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day (Matt. 23). The visible church is the manifested and displayed expression of the tares who will be gathered up and thrown into eternal fire (Matt. 13:40; 7:19; 15:13).
If your current pastor is not teaching discernment and warning you of the danger of deception and deceivers, you should pray for him and perhaps have a talk with him (Ezek. 44:23; Col. 1:17-2:8). If he refuses to repent, you should leave at once and find a true New Testament overseer (1 Pet. 5:1-6).
PRAYER: LORD, please bring my heart into the reality of the blessings of security I have in abiding in You and in Your holy Word. Please alert my heart and mind to the presence and danger of deception and the possibility of being deluded and derailed, so clearly revealed in Your Word. Fill me with Your fullness and teach my heart to trust in You fully as I obediently search out and learn the full-counsel of Your Word. I love You, Jesus. Amen.
Order Expanded 2nd Edition Now