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Beware of False Prophets
By David A. DePra
Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Mat 7:13-23)
This passage is not often taken as a whole teaching. More often, the couple of sentences about false prophets are taken out of context. We are told that you can know a false prophet by his fruits. But rarely is it stated as to what those fruits are.
The trouble with being told that you will know a false prophet by his fruits is that, "fruit inspection," can be quite subjective. If I cannot tell the difference between good fruit and bad fruit, then I may see rotten fruit and think it is good fruit. This is exactly how people are deceived.
The ability to spot rotten fruit comes only from knowing GOOD fruit. If you don’t know the Truth, you won’t discern error. You cannot, for you have no basis of comparison. We therefore see the first cause of deception: Not knowing the Truth of Jesus Christ.
But there is yet another cause for deception. Even though I may not know the Truth, there still has to be a reason why a deception appeals to me. There has to be a reason why, "rotten fruit," is able to find its way into my spiritual diet. Why am embracing it, rather than just ignoring it, or rejecting it?
We must come to terms with a very unwelcome fact: If I am deceived, I need only look for the reason in my own heart. Deception appeals to me or I would not embrace it. But when I say, "appeals to me," I don’t mean in what we would normally think of as POSITIVE appeal. In other words, deception MAY offer me something if I embrace it, like enhancing my pride, and this would be a positive appeal. But deception may also threaten me, play on my fears, and then offer me a solution. This is a negative appeal. Yet both ways of deception have to have something IN ME to work with.
The fact that a deception may appeal to me isn’t, of itself, sin. Who is perfect? But in order to embrace it, I have to cross certain moral lines, not the least of which is to neglect inquiring of the Lord. In other words, rotten fruit may not appear to me to be rotten at first. But once I get a sniff of it, or a taste of it, I am accountable for bringing this to God. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all Truth. And while no one wants to be deceived, and ignorance is part of life, we are not without God’s help. We may not know all Truth, but we need not be deceived by error.
Sometimes a specific deception is able to find a place in my heart, if not directly, then indirectly, if I am living in unbelief in any matter. Unbelief is often nothing more than taking matters into my own hands because I don’t think God will provide a solution. Once I step into darkness in any matter, I am in darkness, period. Then I cannot see clearly. At that point, I am going to be subject to many suggestions I might not be subject to otherwise. I have shut at least part of myself off from God through unbelief, and this will, in the end, provide the hook in my heart by which I can be deceived.
So we see that the ability to know anything by its fruits finds is dependent, yes, upon knowing the Truth. By knowing the Bible. But just as importantly, it is determined by being open – in all my life – to God. Otherwise, I may know what the Bible says, but won’t know what it means. And then, "what it means," will be distorted by my heart of unbelief, and seem to make the Bible say that error is Truth and Truth is error. That makes me ripe for deception.
Good and Bad Fruit
Having said all of that, however, we read in the above passage some indications of what good fruit is, is NOT, and what are some of the traits of bad fruit. What are some of these fruits?
Well, Jesus begins the passage by talking about a WAY, or PATH, to life. Jesus links this up with false prophets. After alerting us to the fact that the way to destruction is wide, Jesus immediately says, "Beware of false prophets….." Sure. False prophets are the ones who LEAD people through the wide gate, which leads to destruction.
But then Jesus gets more specific. The first thing He says about false prophets is that they rarely look like false prophets. No, they look like sheep – in other words, they appear harmless. They look like sheep, act like sheep, have the vocabulary of a sheep, and even some of the works of a sheep. Indeed, they appear to be one of God’s own – one of His flock. But according to Jesus, this is only the outward appearance. The real nature of such a person is that of a, "ravenous wolf."
Sure. Paul said the same thing:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Cor. 11:13-15)
What is LIGHT? It is that which illuminates. It is that which makes things clear. Paul says that Satan will SEEM to be the light-bringer – a messenger of light. Let’s ask: Why would something that APPEARS to be light, but isn’t, deceive me? It goes back to the fact that error must APPEAL to me in some way, or I wouldn’t pay it any heed. In short, what do I think that LIGHT looks like? I mean, light from God? Well, if I’m WRONG about what light really looks like, but don’t know it, that is how Satan will come. He will come in a way that I will falsely identify as light.
This is exactly what is going on in the, "positive confession," and, "name it and claim it," heresy. It is what is happening in the, "plant a seed and reap a harvest," error which is used to raise money on Christian television. This sort of thing plays on the desire of people to be financially (or otherwise) blessed by God – and upon the desire of people to be able to do something to get God to bless them. So they buy into it – equipped with Bible verses and all. This is certainly much easier than surrendering to God and trusting Him. It is much easier than seeking first the kingdom.
Every one of these heresies makes it easy to sidestep the Cross of Jesus, and to escape the personal dealing of God in our lives with regards to sin and ignorance. Sure. Just LEGITIMIZE our wrong attitude towards, say, money, by saying that it actually is God’s will for you to be rich! Or say that it is right to, "give to get." Create a system like this which matches the weakness of people who may be in need, or which matches the greed of those who want money, and it will appear to be LIGHT. It will look like light, act like light, and seem to be THE ANSWER.
An angel of light always offers solutions. That is what light does. But the solutions of Satan will always direct us away from the solution of LIFE FROM DEATH through the Cross. It will always give us a formula to follow instead of Jesus, or will give us something we can do to move God – instead of surrendering to Him. God wants to reduce us down to where He can be free to bless us. Satan wants to puff us up to where we think we can get God to bless us. He wants to destroy the work of God IN US.
Jesus is Lord
The subtlety of the enemy is amazing. One ploy I have noticed today is that false prophets go out of their way to end every program with the statement, "Jesus is Lord." They presumably do this because John writes that, "no man can confess that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit." Thus, they are providing what they hope to be a validation of their ministry.
But wait. Do we really think that John is referring only to cases where the words, "Jesus is Lord," are spoken? And that no one who is a false prophet could possibly utter those words for the purpose of deceiving? No. In reality, to "confess" that Jesus is Lord means that this is the Truth that characterizes your teaching, and indeed, describes your personal relationship to Him. Words mean little otherwise.
Doubt that the words are not the issue? Well, read again the passage about false prophets. Jesus says, "Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven." These people confess that Jesus is their Lord, don’t they? Yet Jesus turns them away because He, "never knew them," that is, they never gave Him access to themselves. It is therefore entirely possible to say the right words, but to use even those right words as a tool to try to lead people astray.
What do we see in this? We see that words mean nothing. What matters is a person’s PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP to Jesus Christ. Do the words, "Jesus is Lord," characterize their relationship with Christ? Do those words characterize their teaching? – in full agreement with scripture? According to how the Bible defines, "Jesus as Lord?"
It is so self-evident that it ought not need to be stated: One who teaches false things about Jesus is a false teacher. One who proclaims Truth and the Word of God – which is more what a prophet does than simply foretell the future – is a true prophet. It all goes back to what is being represented as OF GOD.
Note that Jesus did not say, "You shall know them by their works." No. Nor did He say, "You shall know them by the success of their ministry." No. Nor, "You shall know them by their WORDS." No. He said that you shall know what they are REALLY like beneath the sheep’s clothes, by their FRUITS. Fruit is the product of abiding in the Vine, who is Jesus. Again – and it cannot be said enough times – fruit is the result of the person’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Why does Jesus call false prophets, "ravenous wolves?" What does that mean? Well, a wolf is always there for himself. He is there, not to help the sheep, but to eat them. In short, a wolf is there to benefit himself at the expense of the sheep. He is never there to serve – although it may LOOK like it.
The FRUITS of a false prophet are the fruits of a ravenous wolf – for that is what a false prophet is. And what is the fruit of a wolf? He profits from the demise of the sheep.
We have to see this. A false prophet will look and sound like a sheep. He will even try to act like a sheep. But he isn’t a sheep. He is a wolf. And according to Jesus, the way in which you can know that there is a wolf under that sheep skin is by their relationship to the other sheep. Does this person eat up the life of the sheep? Or edify in Jesus Christ?
And yet even this doesn’t get to the root. Think about something here. We just mentioned that a wolf is going to have a destructive relationship with the sheep. But how about the relationship of the wolf with the SHEPHERD? Now we are getting to the crux of the matter! A wolf is not a sheep and cannot have a relationship with the Shepherd the way only one of His sheep can have a relationship. Thus, we come back to this basic: A wolf in sheep’s clothing will not have a relationship with Jesus Christ that is holy. And because of that, his teaching is going to reflect it.
Get that: A wolf cannot have a relationship with the shepherd, Jesus Christ. In fact, this is precisely what Jesus said in our passage. He said to those who typified the false prophets, "I never knew YOU." Jesus knows everyone of His sheep. He doesn’t know the wolves because they have never given Him access to them!
In this day and age of watered-down Christianity, we are apt to easily dismiss these clear teachings, because we don’t want to expect any minister to be, "perfect." But perfection is NOT what this passage mandates. Anyone who knows Jesus Christ, and who has given Christ access to them is going to be defined by their relationship to Christ – not by whether they are perfect. Their relationship to Christ will carry two primary characteristics: Devotion to Christ, and dependence upon Him. That is what sheep do. These will be absent from a false prophet, although he might preach them. Rather, he will be devoted to his ministry, fame, money, and position. He will be, at best, a hireling.
Ministry which is OF GOD does not get far until God first deals with the minister. There is a personal calling, but a personal dealing via the Holy Spirit. There is the work of the Cross. This work of the Cross is not necessarily a dealing all of which must occur before ministry is possible, but at least a dealing which is occurring during ministry. All ministry is the life of Christ working, first IN, and then THROUGH the minister. Otherwise, the ministry is nothing more than the product of that minister. He initiates it, and generates it – not God. It is not the life of Christ. It is the personality of the minister.
Paul described, in rather stunning detail, THIS MINISTRY, which characterizes ministry which is the life of Christ IN and THROUGH a person:
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God….But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you. (2 Cor. 4:1-12)
Clearly, there is supposed a work of the Cross in the minister so that the resurrection power might flow through the minister to others. This is to be a flow downward from God to the minister, and then outward to those to whom he ministers. Read the above passage once again. Does it look as if there true ministry is possible – ministry which is of the Holy Spirit – any other way? No. Any other way is under the power of religious flesh at best. At worst, that of a false prophet.
With a false prophet, there is no work of the Cross. He has surely rejected the work of the Cross in his personal life. Thus, what comes out is not of the Spirit at all. Instead, what comes out is a religious corruption. The fruit is the product of that person’s hardness of heart and agenda for self-gain using the things of God for himself.
There is another way to illustrate this. Instead of a flow down from God, through the minister, to the people – in a way that builds people up in Jesus – the false prophet instead SUCKS inwardly to himself the life of the people. Instead of an outflow, there is an inflow. This may be money, attention, focus, or notoriety. But in the end, the false prophet is there for himself at the expense of the sheep.
The Holy Spirit BUILDS UP people in Jesus Christ. False prophets are ravenous wolves who suck the life of Christ out of people – eat up the spiritual lives of the sheep – for their own benefit.
Now, don’t misunderstand. When I say that false prophets, "suck the life out," of the sheep, this does not mean that the sheep understand what is happening to them. Seldom do they have a clue as to what is happening to them. Rather, they think that their condition is as good as it gets, or that it is silly for them to think that life in Christ could be OTHER THAN what they have experienced. This is, of course, part of the deception – making people comfortable in their blindness is part of what it means to, "suck the life out of them."
False prophets always seek to be the benefactors at the expense of the sheep. Of course, the, "ministry," of a false prophet is often used as a front to make it look as if HE is not the benefactor. No, the MINISTRY is said to be the benefactor. Or even the sheep. Thus, people are told to sacrifice and give to the ministry. But the false prophet is, in fact, the benefactor.
Let’s be frank. Ministries which have made the ministers RICH at the expense of those who give CANNOT be of God. God would never work that way – and I don’t care how much it appears that, "good," is being done.
God does make provision for the support of the ministry. They are to have a living. This is right, good, and Biblical. But not TO THE HURT of those being served. Not as the result of SELLING the blessings of God! This will never be in the will of God.
Where We Are Being Led
According to Jesus, one of the biggest, "claims to fame," that a false prophet will give is that of doing mighty things in the name of Jesus. They will say, "Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" But according to this same Jesus, none of these things mean a thing. They amount to ZERO.
But false prophets won’t just say these words to Jesus. They say it to the sheep. Have we not prophesied in Jesus’ name? And in His name have cast out devils? And in His name done many wonderful works?" And once you say, YES, you are supposed to get on board – for this is of God!
But IS IT? No. Indeed, the Bible says that a false prophet may do mighty works and still BE false. The possibility is there that a false prophet may give TRUE prophecy, and do mighty works, and yet be false.
How can this be so? Well, we saw earlier that it is possible to say the right words with the wrong intentions. You can say, "Jesus is Lord," with the intention of leading people away from Jesus as THEIR Lord. The point is, what a prophet SAYS and what a prophet DOES is important, but the defining of the prophet really boils down to WHO they lead you to worship and trust:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto thee, saying (teaching), Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; You shall not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proves you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and cleave unto him. (Deut. 13:1-4)
A false prophet will use signs and wonders, and sometimes even use the Bible, to try to get you away from personal devotion and dependence upon Jesus Christ. They will read the Bible and make it mean something other than the Truth. In the end, the goal is to weaken or destroy personal devotion and dependence upon Jesus Christ. They will even redefine devotion and dependence themselves.
For instance, is dependence upon Christ, "giving to get?" – as false teachers state today? No. That is not dependence upon Christ. That is dependence upon my giving – as a tool to spring God into action on my behalf! Heresy. In reality, I am dependent upon Christ when I realize that there is nothing I can do to obligate Him to me. Nothing. It is when I stop trying to obligate Him, and simply surrender to Him. Then I find out that through His own choice He has obligated Himself to me through the debt of love.
People get caught up in this heretical system of, "giving to get," and lose focus completely on the Truth – if they ever had it. This is enough to short circuit what God might have wanted to do in their lives. Some take years to get out of this error, if they ever do.
These heresies wrongly define God Himself. For instance, "Plant a seed into this ministry and reap a financial harvest." Not only is this unbiblical, but it distorts the face of God. Do you have a God who demands your money before He will lead you into the Truth, bless you financially, or set you free? Or do you have one who has already provided through His Son everything we need, if we would only come to the Cross? Come to the Cross. Believe and trust God. Surrender yourself. And you will not only be blessed, but will become someone – not who, "gives to get" – but someone who gives because he has received.
Can we see what is happening here? Gimmicks instead of the Cross. A system to plug into instead of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Or, a redefining of our relationship with Jesus Christ to that of us as a tiny god who commands Jesus, and Jesus nothing more than a blessing machine. When will people finally STOP trying to force things out of God? Doing so makes it impossible for Him to give us, free of charge, everything He has for us!
False prophets seek to lead us away from pure devotion to Christ, get our focus onto something else, or redefine the Christian walk – all unto the intent of destroying the work of the Holy Spirit. Some think they are doing it to feed themselves. But they are doing much more damage than they can imagine – and God is going to judge them for it.
Today millions go to miracle crusades for the sole purpose of the experience, or for seeing what supernatural thing will happen. Some go out of desperation for healing. There they look at what appear to be signs and wonders from God. But are they really of God? – if anything supernatural is happening at all? Or are we seeing an illusion of a miracle?
What exactly does happen at these events, and those like them? Lots of build up with music and expectation. Worship – or what appears to be worship. Then the "healer" comes out, or the main character in the crusade, and begins to do his healing. He begins to do exactly what the people expect him to do. He walks around stage slaying people in the Spirit. Some people come up, but only those who have been screened beforehand, and claim healing. There is, of course, no proof whatsoever that anyone is ever healed. Indeed, it is a documented fact that many of those who claim healing die.
I recently saw a video clip of Benny Hinn running across stage slaying people in the Spirit by mimicking a baseball pitching motion. It was almost as if he was hitting people with the Spirit. He didn’t touch any of them. But they all fell down. He went from one end of the stage to another doing this, and made the comment, "This is fun!" People fell down in heaps. Other times he just blows on them. It is all a big fun time. Do we really believe that this is something God approves of?
But let’s ask an honest question: Even if all of this were harmless, what does any of this really prove? Really accomplish? I mean, what does going to a crusade to watch a bunch of grown men and women fall down do for me? Even if I believe God is doing it – how does this help me? If you take the wonder out of it – the wonder people create because they think this is of God – what do you really have? I mean, really? A bunch of people falling down. That is all you have. There is nothing more which comes of it.
Do you see what I mean when I say that people go for the experience – to see things that God might do? You will not find one time in the Bible where Jesus ever did anything just for the show of it. Ever. There was always benefit which was tangible and immediate. Healing, deliverance, feeding the hungry, calming the storm, or whatever. But never do we find Jesus, or later, the apostles, going around slaying people by the dozens in the Spirit – just for the fun of it. Just for the FUN of it? Such words ought to make us cringe.
I happened to see a expert who has studied this slaying in the Spirit do the same thing Benny Hinn does on a talk show – without anything religious being involved. He made a man fall backwards without touching him – a man who said he was going to purposefully try not to fall. But he did fall! The expert simply waved his arm at him, and he fell! The man could not explain why. He wasn’t physically touched.
Personally, I went up on stage at such a crusade many years ago – not a Benny Hinn crusade. I was in a line with about twenty others, and was the last in the line. One by one, the preacher touched the forehead of the others, and one by one they fell. I was sincerely seeking God, and had already told Him that I wanted His touch. But I also said to Him, "Lord, I am not going to fall down by my own will. Yet I won’t resist either. I have got to believe that if you slay people in the Spirit, it ought to be YOU doing it, not just me going along with the crowd. If it is ME going down by my own effort, then it isn’t a slaying in the Spirit. It is just ME falling down! So Lord, I submit to You in this experience." As you might have guessed, the guy touched me and I didn’t fall. Not even close. He got mad and started condemning me for resisting the Holy Spirit, and then he gave up.
The slaying in the Spirit phenomena is a big deal, not because the action itself means anything, but because when it happens people think that it is a sign that the power of God is present. But despite the assumed sincerity of even those falling down it is entirely possible that ALL of it could be nothing more than a physic phenomena. I have never been slow to being willing to believe God can do such things today. But it is clear that he is not in this. All of the indications are that He is not.
Where do we find ONE WORD in the Bible which gives an indication that God would work in any of these ways that we see today? What is widespread today in some circles is no where hinted at in scripture. Furthermore, what does any of it do to edify anyone in Christ? Nothing. It entertains people. People say, "Wow. Look what God did." They are amazed. But do they ever ask what any of it accomplished? And is anyone paying attention to the picture of God to which the WHOLE is leading, and to what is being TAUGHT about God?
I want to be fair. God heals today. I have been healed three times – yet not once through a faith healer. I have been healed simply through prayer – twice through private prayer, and once through the prayers of others. I have also had times I have NOT been healed. I have know others who have been healed, or not healed. The fact is, God can heal anyone anytime He chooses. But all God has promised is that He will do His will if we will surrender ourselves into His hands. And we might ask, what is wrong with that? Do we trust Him, or don’t we?
God may have even healed people AT a Benny Hinn crusade. But in honesty, even if a small percentage of the healings which are claimed were real, there would be documented proof abounding. Even the law of averages would make that possible. In fact, I think God Himself, if He was healing in public crusades, would surely make proof available. But when these faith healers are asked to provide proof of even ONE case, none of them can do so.
To me, it is always a suspicious thing when people make claims, but the verifying proof is always just out of reach – and this continues endlessly. Sort of like proof of flying saucers. Lots of people see them, even take photos of them, and movies, but real physical evidence is never available. Visitors from other planets who have no problem being seen in the sky, no problem being photographed, and even no problem supposedly abducting earthlings, but who, despite traveling millions of miles to earth, NEVER land and make public contact. Something is wrong with that picture.
The continually illusive proof for THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of healings sounds like the same kind of thing as the flying saucers. People keep saying it is happening, and believe that it is happening, but once proof is demanded, there is rarely any at all. Again – even the law of averages would suggest that we would have some proof on a regular basis. Add to that THIS problem: Why is no one who has a VISIBLE illness or disease ever healing on the platform? You NEVER see this. Most of the time, illness which cannot be seen is said to be healed. Why does God only heal in cases where it cannot be seen with the eye right then and there? You see what I mean. There is something wrong with this picture.
Again – God does heal today. Absolutely. But God never does things the way in which we see them being done at some of these crusades. Money is never attached to it in anyway when God does it, and there is never any doubt as to whether it has happened.
If God were working miracles on the level claimed by Benny Hinn, then why isn’t he walking down the hallways of hospitals and healing people. Why only at his crusades, where offerings are taken? Benny’s claim that he cannot go to hospitals to heal people because his healings, "only happen in the right atmosphere of a crusade," would be humorous if it were not so clearly pathetic. Does anyone out there truly believe that this is how God works? Do we find a single healing in the Bible that ever happened at a crusade? No. In fact, none of them did.
The Spiritual Gifts
I am a believer in all the gifts for today, including tongues and prophecy, and I am a believer that God does heal today. But read Ephesians 4. ALL the gifts are unto the EDIFICATION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST. Does most of what we see in the way of signs and wonders today seem to edify anyone? People shout about what Jesus is doing. But the question is, "Where is Jesus Christ?"
It is wrong to brand a group, or movement, with one brand. This is not about that, for there are many wonderful charismatic churches around, which preach and practice the Truth. And certainly, there are many non-charismatic churches which are mired in deception and sin. This is about error and heresy WHEREVER it is being preached and practiced. A denial of spiritual gifts is just as much an error as the abuse of them. Never think that PERMITTING NOTHING is necessarily better then PERMITTING EVERYTHING. It isn’t. Again – where is Jesus Christ?
The point is, it is a mistake to make the practice of the gifts THE THING – it is a mistake to make it what defines you. It is also a mistake to make the rejection of the sign gifts the thing which defines you. Church is about the Person of Jesus Christ. I would suggest that if we knew nothing about the gifts and become devoted to Jesus, that the gifts would emerge the way God intends them to operate – to His glory and our edification. It is when people TRY TO DO THE GIFTS that the gifts end up being the product of religious flesh.
In short, never seek the gifts – seek Jesus. IN HIM are all of the treasures of God – gifts included. If we seek Christ, God will take care of the gifts. They are HIS GIFTS, aren’t they? I wonder what it would be like to actually seek Jesus Christ, and become devoted to Him, and dependent upon Him, and let God worry about the gifts? Read Acts. That is what the church would be like.
Fruit is the product of RELATIONSHIP – between the Vine and the branches. And certainly a central manifestation of a right relationship with Christ is TEACHING that reflects it. Indeed, according to the Bible, central to whether a prophet is sent of God is what He says about God – in other words, what he teaches. Why should that be a surprise?
Let say that again: True teaching – that edifies in Jesus Christ – is the sign of a true prophet, or minister. False teaching is the sign of a false prophet. Signs and wonders, even if they ARE supernatural, are NOT God’s affirmation on anyone! Much less those signs which are not supernatural. TEACHING is therefore the indicator of whether a person is sent OF GOD, or is not.
The Bible is clear that true teaching is a mark of a true prophet, and that false teaching is central to the definition of a false prophet:
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth (teaching) of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Rev 16:13-14)
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies (teaching), 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 Pet 2:1-2)
It should be self-evident that a true teacher teaches the Truth, and a false teacher teaches lies! Thus, the teaching is a fruit. It tells much about that person’s relationship with God, for all teaching is a product of it, when all is said and done.
Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets." Therefore, I think we ought to beware, don’t you? All through the Bible, we are warned about those who, "creep in unawares," and about those who are, "false brethren." God wants us to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered. He wants a holy and pure Body. It starts with US. *
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