Matthew 7:15 NKJV
“’Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.'”
How close are we to the days of deception? The Bible tells us that it will sweep the world and deceive many just before the Great Tribulation. Jesus warns us Himself to beware of false Christs and false prophets who will deceive with signs and wonders in an effort to mislead the elect (Mark 13:21-23).
Throughout Scripture we are repeatedly warned about false teachers and prophets. The Apostle John tells us to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1). The Apostle Paul warns us that even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). The Apostle Peter explains that these false teachers will teach destructive heresies, even denying Jesus as they twist truth and exploit with lies, motivated by their greed (2 Peter 2:1-3).
The Book of Jude addresses this danger by describing apostates as …grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage (Jude 1:16 NKJV). They are also… mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit (Jude 1:18-19 NKJV).
God warns about false prophets in Jeremiah:
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.‘Jeremiah 14:14 NIV
How do these warnings apply to the contemporary church?
A growing hunger for knowing God exists today like never before. Many teens and young adults are fed up with the world’s lies, and they are earnestly seeking God’s truth. Drawn into non-denominational, charismatic churches, they are taught to experience God through singing, praising, and prayer–minus the all-important and necessary emphasis on the Word of God. As recent proselytes, they become easy prey for Satan to mix truth with lies and lead them astray from the true gospel. In short, they may eventually fall into a cult without even realizing that they are being deceived.
What are these false teachings that have crept into the church?
New Apostolic Reformation
History: The NAR has crept into many charismatic churches and is very dangerous. It originated in the 1940s and has mushroomed into its current form through various ministries and teachings, such as Kansas City Prophets, Toronto Blessing, Brownsville, and Lakeland, Florida. C. Peter Wagner, its founder, coined the movement as NAR, which is also known as “network Christianity.” It lacks a central organizing body or statement of beliefs and is made up of a loose connection of charismatic churches.
Basic Beliefs: This movement has flipped the importance of the pastor and biblical teaching with the role of apostles and prophets. Instead of studying the Word of God, they emphasize experiencing God–especially through singing, prayer, prophecy, and signs and wonders. They concentrate on teaching followers how to become “gods” and usurp God’s power for themselves.
Here is a good outline of their beliefs according to Prophecy Today UK, November 3, 2022:
- The leadership of modern-day ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’
- Dominionism: the teaching that ahead of Jesus’ return, the Church will become all-powerful on earth and make it ready for the Lord7
- The belief that unlimited divine power and blessing is available to believers to equip them for this task
- An over-emphasis on the supernatural and extra-biblical revelation
- An over-emphasis on power and human agency
Another great concern is the recruitment of young people into their ministry schools. These churches are known world-wide for their Christian music, which makes big bucks for the top echelon. For a large fee, students are housed and spend twelve to eighteen hours a day in classes, serving in the prayer rooms, and doing the bidding of their mentors. Over time, their weariness may break down their emotional and cognitive defenses so that they obey and believe without thinking, becoming programmed zombies.
Which churches are NAR? The most well-known are Bethel Church in Redding, California (Bill and Beni Johnson); Hillsong Church in Australia; Catch the Fire in Toronto; Iris Ministries (Heidi Baker); and Morningstar Ministries (Rick Joyner). The network also includes hundreds of small churches and fellowships across the globe.
What is the penalty for entering into these false beliefs and practices? Here is what Jesus has to say:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’* And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV
*The emphasis above is mine. Jesus seems to be outlining the very beliefs and practices of NAR, doesn’t He? Although God’s prophecy, spiritual gifts, and power over the enemy are very real, this warning is about Satan’s counterfeit. We must discern the difference, the true from the false. Let’s be sober-minded and pay close attention to Jesus’s warning. Where we will spend eternity may be at stake.
“Prayer” is a misnomer because Sozo is actually hypnosis with a spirit guide experience, full of mysticism and witchcraft. Christians seeking answers to personal problems or who want to draw closer to God are candidates for this false experience. Placed under a mild trance, they travel into their subconscious with a spirit guide whom they believe is either Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit, visiting various places in the mind. Often suppressed childhood memories may resurface, including false memories, leading to further distress.
Christians only need the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, prayer, and fellowship with other believers to draw close to God. Spirit guides are demons from hell, but we Christians rely solely on the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, comforter, and the one who leads us into all truth. Jesus tells us:
‘But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you.‘John 16:13-15 NASB
I encourage you to research these topics yourself for a richer understanding of these dangerous teachings and practices. I pray that the Lord keeps us from the spirit of deception, embodied in false teachers and false prophets. Let’s defeat the plans of Satan, who counterfeits God’s truth with his lies and deception, by putting on the full spiritual armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:10-18). Remember, we always overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
Let’s allow Jude to close us out in prayer with his beautiful doxology:
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,Jude 1:24-25 NASB
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing by Karen Jurgens, copyright 2022 All rights reserved