The war the church is waging is spiritual and not against flesh and blood but having said that there is flesh and blood that we have to stand against. It is not the person but satan working through a willing person. Luke tells us satan tried to deceive Jesus. Luke 4:5 “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” The problem is that many have not answered as Jesus did, as they loved satan’s offer of power, fame and fortune so much that they were willing to trample on and distort the word of God. Not only do you have the deception of satan at work in them, but you also have delusion brought on by God because of disobedience. False teachers and prophets actually think they are serving God, but it is satan who masters them. Jeremiah 23:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ 18 But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?” False teachers are everywhere in the church. One denomination or group thinks the other is false and vice versa but everyone is false when they follow the words of man.
Many get involved in a particular church and then carry on with the beliefs of that church. Most people who attend church don’t really know the beliefs of that particular church or where they came from, they just like what is offered to their kids and the worship is good. For some who get involved, they learn the ropes of that group, go to school, then seminary and some even put doctor in front of their name. Every step of the way indoctrinates that person into the “ism” they have been bought into. Then they go and teach others to do the same, which is to follow wholeheartedly the teaching of a particular man or woman. The list is long but it could be Calvin or Wesley, Luther, Darby a pope and the many isms that go with it like Calvinism, Methodism, Lutheranism, Dispensationalism or Catholicism just to name a few. Many churches have their own instruction and if you do what they teach, you will be like them. I know I date myself but in my early days most were trying to emulate the likes of the modern-day gurus like Hybels and Warren and every church wanted to be like them but they were powerless men who put their own words above God’s. I really don’t know the recent gurus everyone is following these days but what I do know is that the church continues to follow man instead of Jesus Christ and most are unwilling to set man’s word aside even if they are false.
Take a person who has made a commitment to serve God. They are told to believe a certain doctrine and they commit to that indoctrination. Then as they read the bible, everything is seen in light of that indoctrination and they in turn indoctrinate others and so on and so on… Unknowingly they become false teachers spreading the lies of other gospels they think to be truth. Here is an example. I have talked a lot about the false teacher John MacArthur. He has a worldwide ministry, large church, schools both university and seminary, radio, internet presence. So many people around the world have been influenced by his false teaching. For example, during the pandemic, James Coates a Canadian pastor from Alberta, a hardcore follower of MacArthur was even jailed following all the nonsense MacArthur was spouting Sunday after Sunday about the pandemic. He went to jail following MacArthur’s example, yet MacArthur didn’t even go that far. Even here in my small town, there are people who believe the same as MacArthur. I have read the reviews and many people think MacArthur is next to God, unless you are charismatic. If you were to say to John MacArthur or even James Coates, that they were false prophets, they would laugh at you and escort you out, but it is easy to see their teaching does not line up with scripture. This could be said for most of the other gurus. As I have said before, be careful of study bibles, especially MacArthur’s.
The sad part of this is that there are some really decent people who have no idea they have been duped by false teaching. They are totally committed to the church they have been part of and will not turn away. They think they are serving God with everything they have, except they hold on to false teaching like cessationism, the rapture, the future tribulation and kingdom, eternal security, sexual orientation, tongues and on and on the list could go. They stand every week teaching and preaching as a Baptist or Pentecostal or Catholic or Reformed etc., teaching people a way that is not the way. There is only one way, even if you agree to disagree. People for years have been trying to copy what they thought to be successful, but whenever churches try to copy the gurus, it rarely works. While some, though very few, may be successful, they will never have the same success but in the end all will fail because true success in God’s eyes is not based on building something with your own hands or teaching something different than what Jesus taught us. In most churches teaching about false prophets usually has to do with the other guy, the other denomination or they teach that the false prophets will be down the road sometime when the antichrist deceives the world. But scripture tells us this deception is already happening. Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” 1 John 2:18 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” Just as the scientists believe we are in the last seconds of the doomsday clock (this year it was 100 seconds till midnight); the world is almost at the end of the hour.
No one is going to stand at the front and say listen to me I am a false prophet or say on their website, by the way the words I say are false. It is our job, and you should have this verse memorized by now, to test the spirits based on the word of God. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Since these false prophets have gone out into the world, then we need to be aware they are everywhere, and we need to know how to find them. This is not referring to the secular world or the cults or the satan worshippers but those in the church who teach lies; those who have replaced God’s words with their own. This has been happening for generations. Jeremiah 23:30 “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord. 34 If a prophet or a priest or anyone else claims, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ I will punish them and their household. 35 This is what each of you keeps saying to your friends and other Israelites: ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 36 But you must not mention ‘a message from the Lord’ again, because each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.” There will be a day when they will be held accountable and blackest darkness will come upon them. Zechariah 13:4 “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of their prophetic vision.” I have had people not happy with me for pointing out false prophets to them but that is our job as ministers of the truth but when doing so we must remember to not turn from the truth ourselves. We see in Revelation 2:1 “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” Jesus warned us Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them.” Paul warned us Acts 20:9 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” Jesus also said Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” Changing His words means that you think you are the Messiah and your words are more important than His. Mark 13:22 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.” Yes, it is possible. 2 Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” To distinguish the falseness, you listen to their words and then compare them to scripture. Sometimes it is easy, while other times you really have to listen carefully as some counterfeiters are better than others. I remember photocopying a bill one time just for fun and I was amazed at how real it looked, until you saw the white on the back side and paper felt like letterhead. To know what counterfeit looks like, you have to know what the real bill looks like. The better you know your bible, the easier it is to spot the counterfeit, and this is why we need to know the words of God. Instead this has happened. Jeremiah 5:30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” We can’t love the falseness as so many do in the church; the true church has to stand against these false teachers.
False prophets distort the word of God by inserting their own words and replacing some of God’s words even though we were warned not to do that. It doesn’t even have to be all the words, just some. Revelation 22:18 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” Since the distortion is counterfeit, it will look and sound similar to God’s word as satan is very good at using scripture for his own purposes. 2 Corinthians 11:14 “And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” In Proverbs 9 you can see this counterfeit clearly as both wisdom and folly are calling from the highest point, but one leads to life and the other to death. Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” Matthew 24:10 “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” False prophets and teachers are everywhere in the church. 2 Peter 2:2 “there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” Ezekiel 13:8 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.” They will continue their lying. Jeremiah 14:13 “But I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’” 14 Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. 15 Therefore this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. 16 And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them, their wives, their sons and their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.”
Listen carefully to what they say and then compare the words to scripture. For example, John Macarthur says that power has ceased and that some of the gifts (power gifts - healing and miracles) no longer apply, but scripture does not say that. If someone says laying on their backs before God is a sign of God’s presence, scripture does not say that; it is always on their face. The problem with false prophets is that they are arrogant. satan is so arrogant he will tell you what the problem is if you listen carefully. They will even spell it out for you and tell you exactly what is going. False teachers and prophets will lead you into darkness and if you follow them, you will go where they are going. Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” We are supposed to be saved out of darkness, not led into it. Jeremiah 23:10 “The prophets follow an evil course and use their power unjustly. 11 “Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,” declares the Lord. 12 “Therefore their path will become slippery; they will be banished to darkness and there they will fall. I will bring disaster on them in the year they are punished,” declares the Lord.” 21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.” 2 Peter 2:17 “These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” Jude 1:12 “These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
The good news is they will not get away with it but those who live by God’s word will be filled with the Spirit of God. Jeremiah 23:12 “I will bring disaster on them in the year they are punished, declares the Lord.” Micah 3:5 “This is what the Lord says: “As for the prophets who lead my people astray, they proclaim ‘peace’ if they have something to eat, but prepare to wage war against anyone who refuses to feed them. 6 Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. 7 The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.” 8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.” Isaiah 44:24 “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself, 25 who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, 26 who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’ of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’ and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’
Don’t be afraid to question what you are being taught but make sure you keep your focus on Jesus the only way, the only truth and life. Jude 1:17 “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”