Do you ever feel like you are simply being attacked from all sides? As a follower of Jesus we must understand that there is an enemy that wishes us to turn away from Jesus and in often very subtle ways, this enemy (Satan and His demons) will use our own Christian faith to take us there. Jesus warned us to always be vigilant!
Mark 13:21-23 (TNIV)
21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 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.
What is a false messiah? A false messiah is not someone who simply thinks different from you or someone who disagrees with some doctrine. A false messiah is someone who claims Lordship, someone who claims that you should follow them to gain salvation. Examples are David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, Brian David Mitchell and David Icke (These are just a few).
What is a false prophet? A False prophet, like a false messiah, is not simply someone who thinks different from you or someone who disagrees with some doctrine. A false prophet is a false teacher and leader. Ask these questions to test a false prophet:
1. Have their predictions come true, or do they have to revise them to fit what’s already happened? (Remember all those that have predicted the end-times and have failed?)
2. Does their teaching utilize a small section of the Bible to the neglect of the whole? I believe that the entire Bible reconciles itself. There are no contradictions. What this means is that we MUST NOT “cherry-pick” Scripture to meet our needs or to bolster our point. We MUST reconcile those passages with the whole of the teaching in the bible. This always involves, as Pastor Phil put is, “Context, context, context”.
3. Does the teaching contradict what the Bible says about God or about known Christian morality? HELLOOOOO Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. You know him and his followers from the signs that read, “God hates fags”, “God hates America”, “Thank God for dead soldiers”, “Thank God for 9/11” and a slew of other pickets and signs that contradict all the teachings of the Bible and that are immoral in their own right.
OF SPECIAL NOTE: While Fred Phelps is the extreme example and repulses us, there are many “subtle” examples that indeed are cloaked in making us feel better. I saw it best put like this: “They are the popular leaders who tell people what they want to hear—such as ‘God wants you to be rich,’ ‘Do whatever your desires tell you,’ or ‘There is no such thing as sin or hell.’ These things are 100% in conflict with what the bible teaches!”
RUN from these people!
4. Are the practices meant to glorify the leader…….. or Christ? If the message is more about the messenger than it is about Jesus….watch out! I can’t heal anyone….but God can!
5. Do the teachings promote isolation from, or hostility toward, other Christians rather than love for them? Many ‘c’hristian cults come to mind here.
Here is the best way to stay “on guard”. I saw it best put like this: “We stay “on guard” through regular prayer and Bible study by ourselves and with others, worship, cultivating loyal Christian friends, and learning to discern between right and wrong, true and false. We must keep these projects going, always in progress. These disciplines make or break a Christian’s preparedness for whatever the enemy throws at us.”
Understand too that often some of these “false” prophets or messiahs may be able to perform miracles designed to convince people that their claims are true. This “power” is not of God but is from Satan. Both false and true prophets can work miracles.
Jesus’ warning about false teachers in His day still holds true today. Don’t let down your guard. It is very possible for followers of Christ to be deceived. Yes, it is even possible for us to be deceived. We must be vigilant. Only a solid foundation in God’s Word can equip us to perceive these errors and false distortions of Scripture, indeed, false teachings.
As I have mentioned in the last few weeks, YOU WILL KNOW when Jesus returns, it will be unmistakable:
Matthew 24:27 (TNIV)
For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.