• Jenna

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Part 2

For certain people have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into indecent behavior and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4


Agents of Satan


A false prophet or a wolf in sheep's clothing in the church is what the secular world may call a religious narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath. There are a lot of wolves who pose as sheep in this world, and there are a lot of them that infiltrate our churches too. These false prophets pretend to be messengers of the Truth and children of God, when in fact they are agents of Satan, disguising themselves as angels of light. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). These people don't prophesy the Truth nor live in the Truth, rather they speak forth lies and half-truths, and they live a lifestyle of sin and disobedience as they hide under a thin cloak of godliness. They are the children of the devil and speak out of their own nature. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).


Discernment is a Gift


As children of God, we are to be vigilant and discerning of these types of people who come into our churches and prey on unsuspecting Christians. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Yes, God calls us to give the benefit of the doubt to others, and we are not to be living in fear, suspicion, or with judgmental attitudes towards others, nor are we to judge people just based upon how they look. However, Jesus tells us that we are to judge with righteous judgment. Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (John 7:24). When we judge righteously, that means we discern, assess, and evaluate a person or a situation. We are to listen to the Holy Spirit and exercise our God-given discernment before trusting someone too quickly with important matters or before sharing things prematurely with someone we just met.


When it comes to decisions or situations that are not explicitly commanded or prohibited in the Bible but depend on wisdom, the state of our hearts and minds, and the presence or absence of peace and calm that we feel, certainly matter. Feelings aren't the end-all, be-all, but they are certainly worth listening to in situations with evil people, which can often manifest as physical sensations in our gut. We must be willing to listen to that presence or absence of peace and calm because that is the Holy Spirit guiding us either towards or away from that situation.


If peace and calm are missing as the fruits of faith in a situation, and when we have doubts about a decision or a person but proceed forth anyways, it becomes a sin for us. To violate the conscience is a sin. Romans 14:23 says, Whatever does not proceed from faith, is sin. When we act against our conscience in a certain situation, even if what we do is not objectively wrong for everybody, it is still a sin for us. We will always do well to listen to our conscience when a decision or a person makes us feel off or unsettled. Experiencing a visceral feeling is our body's way of communicating to us or warning us about something. It's part of our discernment. We must take notice of that gut feeling and not ignore it or allow our logical mind to explain away what our spirit detects in an instant. (The spirit is the core of us, and our soul is our mind, will, and emotions).


Discernment is not a long drawn out process of thinking and contemplating or weighing pros and cons. It's quick and sudden. Discernment is concise and to the point. And it's our responsibility to nuture and grow our discernment so that when the time comes to effectively discern a matter, we are better equipped to do so. Spiritual discernment is so much more than a skill, it is a gift from God. The best way we grow in wisdom and discernment is through filling our minds with the Truth on a daily basis. Have your Bible out, and keep it open :)


Bad Teaching and Bad Living


When we are using our God-given discernment, what is the number one thing we can look for when identifying a false prophet? How does Jesus say we will recognize one when they sneak into our churches or pop up in our lives? Well, Jesus tells us to look at their fruit. In other words, what does someone produce? What comes out of their mouths? What does their life look like? The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). False prophets produce bad fruit in two main ways: The way they teach and the way they live.


First, let's talk about the way someone teaches. Jesus says we will recognize someone by what comes out of their mouth and what they teach others when it comes to who Jesus is and the truths of Scripture. On the outside, someone might sound great, post great things about Jesus or the church on their social media accounts, recite lots of Scripture, and quote the great theologians like Charles Spurgeon and Martin Lloyd Jones. However, we can’t just take what we see or hear at face value. We must be able to look closer over a period of time, inspect a person’s fruit more carefully, and search the Scriptures to see if what they say actually lines up with the truth in Jesus. By knowing what the Scriptures say, we are able to better discern between right and almost right, by the Holy Spirit guiding us into all truth. We can't detect false teaching if we don't read our Bibles. As Christians, we must become solid fruit inspectors and never ignore the unsettling feeling someone may give us, regardless of how good-looking they are, how great they sound, how nice they are, how good they make us feel about ourselves, how much Scripture they know, or how much they say they're praying for us and our loved ones. Let no one deceive you with empty words (Ephesians 5:6).


"God Told Me.."


One of the very first signs of detecting bad teaching and a false prophet is when someone professes to receive direct, personal revelation from God. First off, we are no longer in the time or in the process of getting further revelation from God. The Bible is sufficient. Through His Word, God has already provided us everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). A false prophet will say things as though they are directly from God, but they’re nowhere to be found in Scripture. This type of person will elevate him or herself as someone who is more spiritually mature, spiritually elite, or has a closer or more intimate relationship with God by professing to receive special dreams, messages, and signs directly from Him. This stems from pride, arrogance, and the evil desire to control and manipulate others. These people have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power. In other words, they are Christians with their mouths and have a “form” of godliness. But in reality, they behave as unbelievers and deny the power of godliness through their actions. Those who have a form of godliness are those who verbally profess Christ and make an outward display of religion. They present themselves as being godly and believing in God, yet it is all for show and appearances, and quite often they are self-deceived. There is no real proof or power behind their religion, which is evidenced in the fact that their lives remain unchanged, and there is no true repentance. They are still living in patterns of sin and are practicing sin rather than practicing obedience and walking in the Spirit. They speak of God and they may know Scripture or go to church, yet they continue to live in unrepentant sin.


But notice this in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness but denying its power. Avoid such people (2 Timothy 3:1-5).


Scripture explicitly tells us to avoid these people. We are to steer clear when we come across these types of individuals.


6 For among them, are those who creep into households and capture weak women burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Janice and Chambers opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth. Men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not go very far for their folly will be plain to all as was that of those two men. 10 You however have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and suffering that happened to me in Antioch at Iconium at Lystra which persecutions I endured, yet from all of them the Lord rescued me (2 Timothy 3:6-11).


Blessed are Those Who are Persecuted for Righteousness' Sake


In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says that one way to prove that we are a narrow gate, narrow path Christian in the small crowd.. are persecutions. Paul says to Timothy that one way to know he’s the real deal is by his persecutions. Paul's shown clear evidence of his narrow gate, narrow path, few friends life. That’s one way we can distinguish between a true prophet like Paul who is persecuted and hated and a false prophet who is admired and loved by everyone. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:18-19). A typical false prophet doesn't call people to repent or shed light on people's sins but pumps up their egos instead. What unregenerate person would want to persecute someone who would affirm them in their sins? It's the light that this world hates. People who live in darkness hate when the light is shed on their evil deeds. Misery loves company, not the Truth.


12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17). Paul encourages Timothy and tells him that he’ll be protected because he has the Word of God, which will equip him for every good work and help him discern falsehood.


True Kingdom Living


Not only do we need to look at the fruit of what someone teaches. We must also look at the fruit of how they live. Does how they live line up with the Word of God? Are they being sanctified? Are they battling sin everyday and experiencing victory? Are they aiming to live holy lives that glorify Christ? Or are they living a selfish lifestyle of sin? Are they thinking they're battling sin when really they're just giving into it every day and deceiving themselves?


When we inspect the way someone lives, where would we look in Scripture for reference? What kind of lifestyle does Jesus tell us we must have in order to inherit the kingdom of God? But hold up, let me first say this.. now we know that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, and we are not saved by works. The Bible makes that clear in Ephesians 2:8-9. We cannot earn our salvation no matter how many good works we may do in this life. Not even Mother Teresa can get to heaven on her own good works. She also falls incredibly short of the glory of God, just like the rest of us. However, true saving faith naturally produces good works (spiritual fruit), and a righteous life is the natural by-product of trusting in Jesus and being His true disciple.


Faith & Obedience Are Inseparable


The words faith and obedience, believe and obey are synonymous throughout all of Scripture, and they are the same meaning in the original Greek. When we trust someone, our actions are evidence and clear proof of our trust in that person. Trust is not just a verbal agreement, mental affirmation or assent to the Truth. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works (Titus 1:16). Trust involves a volitional aspect in which we listen to Jesus, we trust what He says and His goodness for our lives, and our faith is then expressed and proven through action. We don't just say we trust Jesus and then do whatever we want. That's not faith. That's disobedience and only deceiving ourselves. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22) It's very simple, and only those who don't want to be held accountable try to explain that simple concept away in order to escape any moral responsibility and hang on to their beloved sins. Basically they love their sins, and they choose their sin over trusting Jesus that sin will destroy them and drag them to hell. They essentially don't believe Jesus when He says that throughout all of Scripture. They think mental agreement and verbal profession in Christ is enough to be saved. In other words, that's not truly believing in Jesus. That's trusting in your own mind, not the Word of God. Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered (Proverbs 28:26). Key word in that Proverbs verse is walk. Walk is an action.


Anyways, so where do we find the lifestyle that proves someone has true saving faith in Jesus? We find true kingdom living in the Sermon on the Mount: in the Beatitudes.


2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a]of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:2-12).


For more true kingdom living, we can also look in chapter six where Jesus talks about the true way of praying, fasting, giving, and laying up treasure in heaven.


Scripture Commands Us to Test and Judge


The thing is, all of this is obsolete if we’re not ready, able, and willing to test the spirits. All of this is meaningless if we are unwilling to discern and judge someone’s words and actions. Jesus says the tree that doesn’t bear good fruit is going to be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 7:19). That’s what we call judgement. The thing is, none of this means anything if we don’t understand or realize that we’re supposed to test and judge righteously; that it’s commanded in Scripture. Far too many people falsely believe that we’re not supposed to make judgements. Both professing Christians and unbelievers take one verse out of context and abuse it. You often hear the well-known verse in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” People who do this don’t know what the rest of the passage says. We are absolutely supposed to test and judge! Let’s first be clear on what it means to test and judge. This is not meant to be judgmental towards someone, to look down on someone who doesn’t agree with us on non-essential matters, or to judge the intentions of someone’s heart. No. We are talking about judging someone by their fruits – by their speech, by their actions, by what they openly speak, show, and teach, by how they live, by what they clearly display to us and to the rest of the world.


We’re talking about identifying and judging false prophets who are destructive in the life of the church. In First John 4:1-3, it says, 1“Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you will know the Spirit of God. 3 Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist which you heard was coming and is now in the world already.” This is one of the ways we test and judge a spirit to see whether they come from God, but it’s not the only test. But we must carefully test what we hear from them over time. This is a judgment call that protects the children of God from Satanically-driven people. It’s the way Christians are commanded to live. We are to test the spirits like the Bereans who examined everything in the light of God's Truth and lined up everything they heard with Scripture.


Don't Trust Me. Trust the Word of God


Do you test what you hear from teachers, professing Christians, or your own pastor? You need to! Don't believe every spirit, beloved. You should even test what you’re reading here on my blog. Don’t put your trust in me. Trust the Word of God. Test everything, spoken or written, by the Word, including everything I’m writing here. I am a fallible, fallen person in a fallen world with a finite mind. The Word of God is infallible since Jesus Christ is pure Truth. We must be willing, ready, and well-equipped with Scripture to be able to test and judge the spirits. We need to be able to identity, get away from, and expose false prophets.


Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.7 Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:6-17).


"Judge Not"


Today’s culture, both unbelievers and people who call themselves Christian say that only God can judge and "judging someone isn’t very Christian." We aren’t to judge someone’s heart because only God can see that person's heart, but we are to carefully inspect, test, and judge someone by their words, actions, teachings, and lifestyle. Culture ignorantly says, “Do no judge.” The Bible says, test the spirits, beware of false prophets, disprove those who oppose sound doctrine, and expose and shed light on the unfruitful works of darkness. To read more about "Judge Not" in its proper context, check out my blog, The Most Abused Verse in the Bible.


Jude says, 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4).


What do ungodly people do? First, ungodly people twist Scripture, preach false gospels, and deny our only Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, which is bad teaching. Secondly, ungodly people turn the grace of God into lawlessness, free rein to sin, and cheap grace, which is bad living. Jude tells us to contend for the faith; to detect, discern, test, judge, evaluate, refute, flee from, and expose false prophets. Those who turn grace into free rein to sin and those who deny the vital truths of Scripture, deny the Trinity, or add anything or subtract anything to the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, we are to flee from and expose their unfruitful works of darkness. We do this by holding fast to the Word of God and walking in true righteousness and holiness, as children of the day. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5).


We don’t do this because we love to fight. Rather, we do this because we love the Truth.

 

Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, all for God's glory alone.


Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

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