Last Updated on September 11, 2020
All you have to do is to take a look at what’s on the satellite, TV, shortwave, and radio today and you will see the kind of nut jobs that are out there – all in the name of God (Mk 13:6). All believing and teaching that God has put them there and saying that God provides the money as their justification that God sent them and sustains them.
There are many voices in the wilderness preaching to a little flock. From this many – are there any who are true voices for God? What is it they do to make themselves stand out from the rest of the pack, to be greater than the other voices? The best recipe is to make yourself out to be someone greater than the rest. To bestow some notoriety upon yourself that you tell them comes from God; to set yourself above the others. Thus Beware of men that make claims to be some great one and use God’s calling or anointing as their justification for their claim (Acts 8:9). This is the major means by which they deceive God’s people (Jn 5:43-44).
Justification Becomes Authentication
Their reasoning is thus; that “I am here” so “God must have done it”, therefore “God has given me His approval”. Funny how this is not the reasoning these same men give for the “many” larger more prosperous intuitions’ that would have more justification to make using that same claim.
Jesus’ statement, “For many shall come in My Name, saying, [they are the Anointed One]; and shall deceive many” (Mt 24:5), should not be misunderstood to mean that where there are many there is deception – He clearly did not say that. He did not say, they have many followers. He said many shall come as deceivers, “even now are there many antichrists” (1Jn 2:18). Over the years many have come – and combined – they have deceived many. The many that have come may have only had a few followers at a time but the tally amounts to many deceived by these (now) many deceivers.
Many Doesn’t Mean Majority
Perhaps why this is so misunderstood is because of their game playing with words (Eph 5:6). Those to whom this verse applies to, try to convince you that they are not of the many, that they are different – thus disqualifying themselves. But what they really just did is identify that they are not one of the majority, which is not what Jesus said. Jesus said many shall come. He did not say, the majority shall come, or the majority that you have, or those who are like all the others, or that they have many followers. These deceivers use this misdirection so that they appear to not be of the majority – misdirecting you into thinking that means ‘many’.
In other words, they want you to believe that they are not like most of the other religious leaders or churches out there – and that’s supposed to isolate them from identification in this verse. Jesus isn’t talking about sameness or difference. Another game is that they say that they do not have many followers – so it’s not them. Jesus didn’t say they will have many followers – He said many shall follow their pernicious ways. Again, He said; many shall (indicating a time period not instantaneous, or He wouldn’t have used the word ‘shall’ at all – He would have just said ‘many follow’ – which is just what these deceivers twist it into saying) follow their pernicious (gradually subtle, harmful) ways.
Ways of Perniciousness
Another fact that these deceivers will ignore that Jesus gave to identify these deceivers by is that their way, their fruit, and works show who they are (Mt 7:15-20). Their ways are pernicious – having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.
This would very much apply to an individual or ministry that always has a stream of people leaving it over time – once the reality of it sets in. A ministry where there is a gradual, subtle deception that brings a harmful effect on people’s lives. That is a pernicious ministry or man. As such, this is a good example of the above discussion on the many and the majority. Because this kind of ministry/man may not have many at any one time but will have had over time many who have gone through its doors – coming and leaving. This is the type of ministry/man that Jesus is identifying here as the coming deceivers.
These same deceptions are often used by many of their predecessors whose steps they walked in. Look at who they have patterned themselves on or after. Do not be fooled thereby. Beware of those claiming to be an exclusive “Anointed One“ (Acts 8:9). That will always point to a deceiver.
What Makes God’s Work?
God’s work is not simply a statement made by a man claiming to be a man of God and thus it makes it so. To be doing God’s work you have to be doing things according to His pattern and things in the lists. Yes, there are lists we can use to know if men are doing God’s work or their own fleshly desires. It’s usually one or the other. Jesus told us that it is my men’s fruits that we know them – and this especially applies to those claiming to be prophets (Mt 7:15-20).
This is a very important fact because we are dealing with deception. Deception has the intent to appear that it is the very truth and everything opposed to it is the deception – that’s the deception of deception. Proverbs speaks of Wisdom and Folly in Chapter 9, where it shows that Folly tries to imitate the works of Wisdom – but has different results (fruits). Yet we find Folly makes the claim that it is Wisdom because it is doing what Wisdom does – on the surface. Don’t be deceived!
We can start with the fruits of the Spirit – which any man of God will have and so these fruits will also flow out into his ministry showing that his words are wrought in God (Jn 3:21). We highlight in bold the fruits we should find that will indicate to us that something is of God. [verses are from the NASB unless otherwise noted]
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law [nothing that is against the law]. (Gal 5:22-23)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature [new creation]; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2Cor 5:17)
Paul tells us that a new life in Christ reflects in the things of our old man of flesh passing away and the new creation of Christ manifesting in us. Men of God walk in the newness of Christ (Rom 6:4) not in the flesh (Rom 6:1, 8:6). For we are to…
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you (Eph 5:1-2)
For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (Eph 5:8-12)
To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom 8:6)
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you [forgive]. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Col 3:12-17)
These are just a few of the fruits that indicate to us if someone or something is The Work of God or not.
So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Mt 7:17-18, 20)
On the other hand, let us take a look at the fruits or works that indicate if someone or something is The Work of Satan.
Fruits Indicating that This is Satan’s Work
But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Eph 5:3-5)
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Mt 7:15-20)
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, (Eph 5:6-8)
For it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. (Eph 5:12)
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,… For the mind set on the flesh is death,… the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:5-8)
Therefore… let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and… go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness;… For sin shall… be master over you, for you are… under law…. sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it… be! Do you not know… you are slaves of the one whom you obey,… of sin resulting in death… slaves of sin,… because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness… For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death… For the wages of sin is death. (Rom 6:12-23)
To Act or Not to Act
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Mt 7:24-27)
Therefore do not be partakers with them