‘There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.’ -2 Peter 2:1
“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” -Matthew 24:24
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ -Matthew 7:21-23
Good things that are not necessarily proof of a godly mentor, teacher, preacher, apostle, or prophet.
1. They know the Word of God
It is possible for someone to know the word of God, and even teach the word of God, and not themselves be doers of the word. Knowing the word of God is an important characteristic of a minister of the gospel, but is not in and of itself proof that a person is approved of the Lord.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. -Matthew 23:27-28
2. They have a lot of followers
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. AND MANY WILL FOLLOW THEIR SENSUALITY, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.. -2 Peter 2:21-22
3. They are followed by leaders that you trust and respect
In this digital age, not everyone that “follows’ or ‘likes’ someones profile, or ministry page, necessarily knows the minister personally. Even those teachers that we know and trust often have large networks of ministers that are connected to them very loosely through memberships, or that have taken their training courses. This is not to discredit those trusted leaders that are doing their best to equip younger and lesser known ministries through training and networking, but it is to say that your favorite teacher or prophet following another minister is not necessarily an indication that they are safe.
I do not know what each leaders process is, but it would take a lot of time to research diligently enough to discern whether all of their members are called, anointed, and commissioned by God and in His timing for release in ministry.
High levels of prayerful discernment and paying attention to their patterns will help uncover the spirit in which they share what they share, and if it is mixed with exaggeration and deception.
Just recently I reached out to a known and trusted friend that is a well-respected prophetess to ask if she would vouch for the ministry of another person that calls themselves a prophet. I was praying for discernment about this particular person as someone I care about had sent me one of their messages and recommended them to me highly. My friend, that I know is a legitimized prophetic voice, was following this new ‘prophet’ on Facebook. Her response was, ‘Absolutely not.’ She went on to say she did not know her, had only seen one video of hers, and was herself disturbed in her spirit by it.
Let’s face it, many of us just don’t know a lot of the people on our social media, so beware of immediately assuming a teacher is safe just because they are followed or liked by someone you know and trust.
4. They are loved by a close family member or friend
This one is tricky. But the word says to be careful about following blind guides. We all have a responsibility to consider the counsel of other trusted believers, but also in the end we must discern for ourselves.
Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. -Matthew 15:14
5. They have a lot of money
This is just a common sense one. Money, in and of itself is neither evil or good, it is whether a person loves money, and how they handle their money, that determines the type of person they are.
6. The talk about love, peace, and Jesus
The world is full of false religions that are all about teaching their version of love and peace. Even Jesus says in Matthew 10:33:34, ‘But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.’
When it comes to peace, we are to live at peace, ‘as far as it depends on us,’ but not at the expense of standing on the truth of the word of God.
Matthew 24:24 warns about false Messiahs, not everyone that speaks the name of Jesus, is referring to the one true Christ as revealed to us in the Bible. Many false religions name the name of Jesus, but when you dig into their beliefs and doctrines, it becomes clear, they are not speaking about the One the true believers know and love.
7. Comes across as loving and caring
Discernment is important for understanding why people are motivated to do what they do.
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. -1 Corinthians 3:12-15
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Warning Signs of a False Mentor, Teacher, Preacher, Apostle, or Prophet
1. They make statements often that are generalized towards the whole audience, addressing everyone as if they are certain everyone is already mature and wise believers, often teaching against ‘those other people that are not like us. (aka good as us, anointed as us, chosen as us, smart as us, holy as us, discerning as us). This plays to people’s pride. They are full of pride themselves and often, if not usually, controlled by a Laviathan Spirit masquerading as Holy Spirit; this appeals to their followers pride and also work to form a tie to them.
A wise and prudent teacher recognizes that there will be followers at various levels of spiritual maturity, and their teaching is geared to train everyone up into full maturity. They do not talk down to people, but neither do they teach harder teaching as if its for ‘those other people’ that one might know that has a problem.
Wolves in sheep clothing will name drop the names of people they don’t know personally to legitimize their ministry. They love titles, and give themselves titles even before elders have recognized them as such. They love to take the places of honor.
I have heard false teachers say incomplete thoughts or sentences without explaining, leading people to believe that the meaning was something that made them look important, powerful, and sought after. They may flat out lie, but often exaggerate, or deceive about the true nature of the experience they are sharing.
Example could include saying that the Lord had something very important for them to do last week, and then in the next sentence say they were at the White House, implying they were there on an official visit to meet with dignitaries, but never explaining why they were at the White House, and if that had anything to do with the important work they had mentioned so as not to be caught in an outright lie by someone that tries to fact check their statements.
Also beware of teachers that set themselves up like the only righteous one, the supreme leader, or the only one that can handle God’s word correctly. There are hundreds and thousands of godly teachers throughout the world handling God’s word correctly.
2. They will often target believers that have been wounded by false believers, such as those that have been wounded by those with a religious or critical spirit. These believers are an easy target because they often have left the flock because of the hurt they experienced in a specific church or church body, whether real or perceived. People are drawn to others, including teachers, with similar unhealed wounds or prejudices. If you have been hurt by someone with a critical or religious spirit, it’s important to ask the Lord to heal you and seek out relationship with other growing believers. We grow in community and fellowship with one another.
Those teachers that are operating out of this type of wound, and a spirit of pride, will refuse any correction that could actually be used to heal and deliver them. They will accuse people of being critical and unloving when they are rebuked.
Jesus refers to His people as a flock of sheep. Sheep always travel in flocks, the sheep that wonders away from the flock is said to have wondered away from the Shepard.
Luke 15:2-7 And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” So He told them this parable “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep! I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.
Be careful if you have stopped gathering together with other believers that you don’t fall prey to the wolves in sheep clothing, trying to gather the wounded sheep into their fake flock!!!
3. They will mix the word of God with occult teachings, or they will add to the word when teaching instead of expounding. Or they will expound on a wrong interpretation of a word, phrase, or verse. This is very dangerous! It is important to have a solid understanding of correct Biblical doctrine in order to discern where people are going off the path of truth and into myths and fables, which is forbidden in the teaching of God’s word.
There is a difference between a parable to make a Biblical point, and telling a fable, that is not grounded in Biblical content.
Websters Definition of Expounding: present and explain (a theory or idea) systematically and in detail.
“he was expounding a powerful argument”
present, put forward, set forth, propose, propound; More
explain, give an explanation of, detail, spell out, describe
“he expounded his theories”
elaborate on, expand on, expatiate on, discuss at length
“he expounded on the virtues of books”
◦ explain the meaning of (a literary or doctrinal work).”the abbess expounded the scriptures to her nuns”
◦ explain, interpret, explicate, elucidate; Morecomment on, give a commentary on ”a treatise expounding Chomsky’s theories”
Or they will take away from God’s word by only preaching out of parts, or an incomplete message. Such as taking the doctrine of grace and leaving out the need to repent and live another way.
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. -Rev 22:19
DISCERNMENT IS CRUCIAL HERE AND A SOLID FOUNDATION OF THE BIBLE AND TEACHINGS IN SOUND DOCTRINE.
4. Another camp of false teachers falls under a bit different distortion of the scriptures. These teachers teach what peoples ‘itching ears want to hear.’ The Bible warns about them in 2 Timothy 4:1-5
‘Timothy, in the presence[a] of our great God and our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who is destined to judge both the living and the dead by the revelation of his kingdom—I solemnly instruct you to proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit[b]—with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.
For the time is coming when they will no longer listen and respond to the healing words of truth because they will become selfish and proud. They will seek out teachers with soothing words that line up with their desires, saying just what they want to hear. They will close their ears to the truth and believe nothing but fables and myths. So be alert to all these things and overcome every form of evil. Carry in your heart the passion of your calling as a church planter[d] and evangelist, and fulfill your ministry calling.’
And from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
Prophetic words are meant to encourage, edify, and uplift but false prophets will prophesy prosperity constantly, without also giving any meaty teachings or words about pure motives and obedience. You won’t hear much about having to go through any trial or tests, its just a ‘give me,’ message that appeals to peoples greed and desire to live a pain free, problem free life.
5. False teachers will often be a one trick pony. Although each teacher may have a different style or an area in which they focus their teaching, a teacher that only always teaches about the grace of God, or the spiritual gifts, or demons, or out of revelation, or worse, is stuck on some specific ‘issue’ in the world whether real or perceived, should be examined closely.
The cults, and people that get stuck in a locked down position with no Christian growth or fruit, are often people that get obsessive about ‘this one thing.’
An extreme example being conspiracy theories such as when someone that is obsessed with proving that there are specific scriptures in the Bible they believe have been changed over the years.
A less obvious example might be a ‘prophet’ that has a rotation of prophetic words that appeal to the fleshly appetites, void of any real teaching on the responsibility of righteous living, or themselves not living a righteous life.
5. Personal Integrity and Righteousness
In a time where there is an ultra grace message being preached, leaving out the importance of living a righteous life, in holiness and reverence, people have drifted away from the truth and the teachings of Jesus in regards to what the cost of following Him are. False teachers refuse accountability, and set themselves up as above others in the body. If you look closely, they do not actually have a servants heart. They may serve, but they serve with wrong motives, to do their good works before men.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Some final warnings:
When in doubt, check it out! Know the difference between an example, a parable, and a new age or occult teaching by studying the New Testament scriptures. If you hear a new idea or teaching that seems odd to you but you are not certain if it falls under an occult teaching or false doctrine do your research! Don’t just automatically accept as true what you are taught if you do not know it is backed up by a sound interpretation of the word of God.
God is raising up a mature body of believers in this new era, and anointing them with razor sharp discernment to combat the great deceptions of the enemy sent to pollute people’s minds against the unadulterated truth of the Word of God. God is releasing more and more of the revelation of His Kingdom here in the earth, and generously pouring out His Spirit, and His power over the beloved body of Christ; with this new measure of ‘God capacity’ He is bestowing, greater measures of discipline, and spiritual sensitivity will be required to walk by the light of the truth. God is raising the spiritual bar, and the enemy has a well organized counter-attack.
I hear the word of the Lord to sound the warning, ‘Not all that glitters is gold.’
God is looking for a people that He can trust with this outpouring of signs and wonders, but if you seek signs and wonders for the sake of signs and wonders, you open yourself to be deceived.
God is looking for a people that He can trust with influence, but if you seek influence, for the sake of influence, you open yourself to be deceived.
God is looking for a people that He can trust with His favor, but if you seek His favor, for the sake of favor, you open yourself to be deceived.
God is looking for a people that He can trust with worldly wealth, but if you seek worldly wealth, for the sake of worldly wealth, you open yourself to be deceived.
God is looking for a people that He can ravish with mind blowing experiences in His Spirit, but if you seek mind blowing experiences in His Spirit, for the sake of mind blowing experiences, you open yourself up to be deceived.
Pray diligently in this hour for great spiritual discernment. You will need it to stand against the rapidly increasing deception that is rampant in this world as we enter this great new era of Kingdom authority on the earth.
Seek God with all your heart. Seek His face. Seek His wisdom. Seek His truth. Seek peace. Seek good. Seek spiritual gifts, especially that you might prophesy so that you can bring edification to the body of Christ. Seek your heavenly home. Seek to enter the Kingdom through the narrow gate. Seek glory, honor, and immortality by doing good. Seek His Kingdom, and seek His righteousness.
These things are what we are instructed to seek in the Holy Bible. Seek these things, and you will find them, and with them, all things will be added to you as well.