We are living in an age where anyone can call themselves a prophet, a teacher, a preacher or any other authority in the Christian body. All that is required is a silver tongue, charisma, and no conscience. Combine this with social media, and the media in general, and you’ve got yourself a circus.
Many desperate people are seeking a Messiah, but rather than turn to Jesus, they turn to a supposed man of GOD (or woman in some cases). They put their trust, their common sense, and their money into the hands of this man, hoping that he will bring them deliverance, health, prosperity, and love. This man will then capitalise on their need, exploit it, and use it to his advantage. This has happened in the past, and I am sure that many people are aware of the stories of charismatic leaders who declared themselves to be men of GOD, or even the Messiah himself. Their dangerous teachings brought people under bondage, going so far as to convince them to take their own lives. As outsiders, we may look at these unfortunate victims and shake our heads, wondering how they could have buried themselves so deeply in the cult that they believed the radical teachings and lies of the leader, but it’s simple really. If someone has a problem, and you claim that you and you alone have the answer to the problem, people will listen. Perhaps it may be out curiosity at first, but if you have the gift of the gab and you know how to appeal to the needy part of a person, you have them. Once you gain their trust, you can begin to take over their thoughts, beliefs, and will. Before long, you have a group of people who will do whatever you tell them to do. It is this type of person that has made Christianity a detested, hypocritical, and dangerous faith to many in the world.
In years past, these dangerous leaders would pop up here and there on the news, and then only if something horrific had taken place. These days, false prophets and preachers may not be asking you to kill yourself, but that does not mean that they are any less dangerous. In Africa alone, there have been countless stories of these leaders who abused their power by making their congregations do ridiculous and often dangerous things. A couple years ago, right here in South Africa, we had a pastor who sprayed insect repellent in the face of people to remove demons. Insect repellent? Really? I remember watching the video in disbelief, watching this supposed man of GOD spray Doom (insect repellent) into the faces of many people. This had my country in an uproar, with people making negative comments about Christians and painting us all in the same light as this pastor. It didn’t end there. We had another pastor who had his entire congregation eat grass like a cow. They were literally on their hands and knees eating this grass like animals. Funny thing was, I did not seehimdo it. Another pastor, who called himself a prophet (most of them do), had the congregation bring their underwear to church, hold it in front of their intimate parts, while he cast out devils. He actually had a bag full of underwear that he handed out to the church. This particular prophet was documented by an Englishman who had heard about the infamous church leader. The documentary actually aired some months ago on BBC.
Several religious channels in South Africa feature these false prophets and preachers. The latest one that caught my eye while channel surfing was a man who claimed to heal people by kissing them. Interestingly enough, he was picky about who he kissed. You had to be of a certain age (not too old), and you could not be an ugly duckling either. I watched this man put his lips on this woman, and hold her there for at least two minutes. Whether or not this method ‘worked’ I will never know as I changed the channel- I had had enough. These leaders have Youtube channels, reaching a wider audience than they normally would have. Some use Facebook to promote their false teachings, and even Twitter. They use these platforms to sell their ‘anointed’ products as well, whether it be a lotion, lip ointment, clothing, holy water, and other items that bring their followers under stronger bondage. You’re also always sowing into their ministry, but instead of them using that money for the poor and helpless, they use it to further themselves. As their church grows, so does their wealth and their heads. New cars, houses, girlfriends, clothing, and bodyguards are all the rage. They call it their ‘due’ as glorious and obedient servants of the Most High (what a load of blasphemous rubbish). While their church suffers, they thrive? I do not know of any teaching from Scripture that promotes this type of life.
Africa is not the only one with these type of people. America also has its fair share of false prophets and preachers who are glorified by their church members. They make a show out of their sermons, filling it with distracting effects so as to dull what little discernment the congregation has. Flying over the congregation’s head by means of a skillfully positioned rope, worship music that gets the listener into a frenzy that is far from godly, watered down Scripture that promotes tolerability of non-Christian values and lifestyle choices, drama-filled people who love to satisfy the flesh, busybodies intent on sowing disruption in the body of Christ, and people filled with the self who love to be praised and glorified for the supposed anointing on their lives. I don’t hear much about Europe or any other areas of the world, but I’m sure that there are plenty of these false leaders looking to fool an unsuspecting Christian.
Christians should not be able to be fooled, especially if they read their Bibles. However, many Christians are lazy. They are happier to let someone else teach them than actually meditate on GOD’S Word for themselves. With social media being such an essential aspect of a great percentage of peoples’ lives, it is easy to find a leader who you like, follow them, and then wait for them to post teachings, twisted Scriptures, videos, and the like. Not many Christians actually question teachings by Christian leaders anymore merely because their teachings ‘seem right’. Well, the Bible has something to say about ‘seemingly right leaders’.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
Just in case some Christians are not aware of what these leaders are actually meant to do in the Body of Christ, I’ll let this Scripture speak for itself:
Ephesians 4:12-14: …for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of GOD, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,…
The Church, the Body of Christ, is more divided today than ever before because of these false leaders. Christians are arguing over problems that the Bible has already clarified, but due to their loyalty to their pastors, prophets, and the lot, they will take false teaching over truth because it suits them better. Sometimes you’ll come across a leader who knows the Scriptures so well that he can twist it to sing to his tune and then proclaim it as the truth. These leaders may not be physically leading people to their death, but they are taking them with on a one-way ticket to hell.
Brethren, we are not here just to plod along until Jesus returns! This is a fight! In 1 Corinthians 9:26, Paul the Apostle says: Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. You need to put on the armour of GOD and be ready for any evil, whether it be in the form of false preachers or prophets, persecution, attacks by the devil, or anything that opposes the Kingdom of GOD and His servants. I am not saying physically go out there and fight people, no. The Bible says that we do not wrestle with flesh (Eph 6:12), nor do we war according to the flesh (1 Cor 10:3). Spend more time with GOD in prayer, read His Word, study and meditate upon it, memorise Scripture, get into the habit of regular fasting, be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Ghost, and do not lose your faith. Know Whose you are, and Who you serve. Only then will you be equipped to suss out those who are not of The Body.
Disclaimer: I do not profess to teach or have any sort of authority over men. I share the Word of GOD and any matters about the world that directly applies to our lives and walk as Christians.