BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. These teachers are hypocrites and liars. They pretend to be religious, but their consciences are dead” (1 Timothy 4:1-2 NLT).
One of the things that will happen in the last days or last times, as we have seen in the scripture above, is that there will be deceptive spirits (lying spirits) and demonic teachings. These are not the only things that will happen. For example, 2 Timothy 3:1-5 tells us other things. However, I am focusing on deceptive spirits and demonic teachings.
Beloved, we are in the last days, and deceptive spirits and demonic teachings are already here. These will continue till the church goes in the rapture with Christ and the world will experience intense activities of Satan. 1 John 4:4 refers to the spirit of the Antichrist, which would come, and adds that it is now already in the world. This is just preparing the ground for the Antichrist who will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles; he will use every kind of wicked deception to fool those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
Today, there are those who claim to be apostles, prophets or teachers, who are possessed by the spirit of deception, deceiving the people of God today. Many people, who claim to be ministers of God, hold the Bible and call the name of Jesus, are spreading demonic teachings in the body of Christ.
Because they are within the church and have a large congregation and resources, they are able to gain a large following and are leading their disciples astray. No leader goes into error alone; the followers, in most cases, are drawn along, even if not all of them.
Having a high-sounding religious title, popularity, wealth, etc. does not make a minister correct, as regards the spirit in him and his teachings, and as regards his teachings and his practices.
It is not new again that we have today false prophets in the church – many of them did not start that way. It is a pity that Christians are falling victim despite the warnings that these things will happen. Jesus warned, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand” (Mark 13:21-23 NKJV).
Delivering his farewell speech to the Elders of Ephesian church at Miletus, Paul said, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31 NKJV).
Before Jesus returns, there will be intense operation of deceptive spirits, demonic teachings will escalate, and the sad thing is that even true believers will be deceived. Therefore, you need to know how to avoid being a victim of deceptive spirits and demonic teachings.
There will be scoffers
One of the features of the last days is that scoffers shall abound. 2 Peter 3:3-4 says, “First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. This will be their argument: ‘Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created’” (NLT).
Who is a scoffer? The Greek word for scoffer in that scripture is empaiktes (pronounced emp-aheek-tace’), which means a derider and, by implication, a false teacher. According to Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, a scoffer is one who shows contempt by mocking, sneering, or scorning. In addition, it says, “Unlike the good man, who walks the path of wisdom, the scoffer is a wicked man who follows the path of folly, refusing to listen to the wisdom of others.”
Noticeably clear in 2 Peter 3:3-4 is that scoffers will mock the truth, laugh at the truth and pursue their ungodly selfish desire. They will ridicule the teaching about the return of Jesus.
The book of Jude tells us more about the scoffers. “But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ told you, that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to enjoy themselves in every evil way imaginable. Now they are here, and they are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They live by natural instinct because they do not have God’s Spirit living in them” (Jude 17-19 NLT).
Do not forget, scoffers could be false teachers, and false teachers could be scoffers. They are deceived and have rejected the truth. They mock the truth and peddle demonic doctrines. God’s judgment awaits scoffers or false teachers. “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools” (Proverbs 19:29 NKJV).
What you must do
1.Love and accept the truth. Ezekiel 13:19 talks about false female prophets lying to Israelites who love to listen to lies. Can you imagine that! There are such false prophets today, male and female, just as there are those who, curiously enough, love to listen to lies.
John 8:32 says you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If you love the truth and accept it, you will not be deceived. Those who reject the truth become victims of lies. King Ahab hated the truth and ended up surrounding himself with lying prophets (2 Chronicles 18:9-34). He said in verse 7, “There is still one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil. He is Micaiah the son of Imla” (NKJV). He died in a battle he should have avoided if he had heeded the words of a true prophet, Micaiah, and not the assuring words of the four hundred lying prophets.
In Acts 13:44-47, the truth was preached, but in verses 48-50 we see two different reactions – the reaction of the gentiles and the reaction of the Jews. “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout the entire region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region” (Acts 13:48-50 NKJV). If you love and accept the truth, you will be able to detect lies – your spirit will sound the alarm.
2. Test every spirit. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (NKJV). It is not everyone who claims to be speaking by the Spirit of God is. Therefore, do not believe every spirit – there are false prophets deceiving people and teaching doctrines that are not from God; lying preachers are in various places today.
After the four hundred prophets had assured the king of Israel, Ahab, to go to war against Ramoth Gilead, because God would deliver it into his hand (2 Chronicles 18:5), something told King Jehoshaphat, who was generally a good king, that something was wrong. Jehoshaphat was not satisfied. He asked, “Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?” (Verse 8). He did not swallow the sweet words of these lying prophets, hook, line, and sinker. At Jehoshaphat’s insistence, Micaiah was brought, and his prophecy warned of the calamity awaiting them in the battle. Unfortunately, Jehoshaphat still went to the battle, contrary to Micaiah’s prophecy. He was nearly killed in that battle because he was mistaken for Ahab, who disguised to the battle, while Jehoshaphat wore his robe.
Do not despise prophecy. Nevertheless, you should not believe every prophecy or prophet. “Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 NKJV).
3. Reject any teaching and practice that contradicts the Bible. “Forever, O LORD, your word stands firm in heaven” (Psalm 119:89 NLT). Do not be deceived by any supposed new revelation not founded on the Bible. The Word of God is like silver purified seven times (Psalm 12:6). Beware of “another gospel.” Here is Paul’s admonition: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9 NKJV).
Be like the Berean believers who were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica; they searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth (Acts 17:11).
4. Avoid sitting with scoffers. Do not sit with those mocking the truth of the word of God, and peddling their own version of truth. “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers” (Psalm 1:1 NLT). Scoffers are fools, so do not sit with them; do not company with them. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (NKJV).
Scoffers shall not go scot-free, so do not to partake of the punishment awaiting them. “When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise; but when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge” (Proverbs 21:11 NKJV). It may even be futile trying to correct a scoffer. Proverbs 15:12 says, “A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise” (NKJV). So protect your heart by avoiding a scoffer.
Paul said he had “delivered to Satan” two heretical teachers, Hymenaeus and Alexander, so that they might learn not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:20). That phrase “delivered to Satan” has been interpreted to mean ex-communicated. This is meant to preserve the church by denying the offender fellowship and make him or her repent.
5. Do not regard any man of God above God. No matter how anointed or celebrated any man of God is, he is not superior to God. No word of a man of God is more important or more authentic than the word of God. If any minister of God is preaching anything or sharing any supposed revelation that is a mockery of Bible teachings, throw it away and obey the Bible. That was what Peter and John did before the Sanhedrin. “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:18-20 NKV).
Peter and the other apostles who were on trial before the high priest and the Sadducees said a similar thing: “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29 NKJV). That should be your principle and your attitude – no compromise on the truth of the Word of God. Do not let teachers, who are scoffers, mockers, or scorners, lead you astray.
6. Go after God and not after signs and wonders. Believers should not follow signs; signs should follow believers (Mark 16:17). Jesus was a man approved by signs and wonders (Acts 2:22). You should be or desire to be the one God is using for signs and wonders in your generation, not the one running from one miracle service to the other in search of miracles. Everybody needs a miracle, but be careful of false prophets doing great signs and wonders, not by the Spirit or power of God.
These so-called prophets and spiritualists are taking advantage of people because of the numerous problems in the society. Some of the challenges that push people to these false prophets are the consequences of irresponsible and non-responsive governments. With a high-performing government in place, these charlatans will be rendered jobless.
Not all problems are spiritual, and everybody, including the prophet, has one problem or the other requiring a solution. However, the false prophets and spiritualists exploit the adversities of their victims for financial gain. Some of them do not see anything beyond the physical! They are just very crafty and innovative! Some, however, depend on the power of the devil, which opens the lives of their clients to the devil. People have seen read, heard, or seen the scandals involving some of them. There have been distasteful revelations.
Does it mean there are no longer genuine ministers of God? No, there are still many genuine, anointed prophets and teachers, authentic ministers of God who are still contending earnestly for the faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
The Bible has already warned that if possible, the false prophets will deceive the elect. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (Matthew 24:24-25 NKJV). Mark 13:22-23 says a similar thing. And many elect are being deceived today by supposed miracle workers and super prophets!
At Cana of Galilee, Jesus said to a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe” (John 4:48 NKJV). There are many like that in church today. Jesus told the crowd, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet” (Luke 11:29 NKJV). See also Mark 8:11-12: “Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation’” (NKJV).
Human beings always seek miraculous signs before they believe in a servant of God and Jesus condemned this during His earthly ministry, but He also performed many miracles in people’s lives (John 2:18, 4:48, 6:30; Luke 11:29; Mark 8:12). Jesus said to Thomas, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway” (John 20:29 NLT).
If you are a minister of God, be true to God, your calling and people. Do not become a false minister because of financial pressure or desire for crowd or fame. Devote your time to the Word of God and prayer.
Conclusion: Hosea 12:13 says, “By a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet he was preserved” (NKJV). Every Christian should open his heart to the ministrations of the gifts (ministers) God has given to the body of Christ, but avoid running from place to place for miracles. “Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed” (2 Chronicles 20:20 NLT). However, beware of deceitful spirits and demonic teachings. Be careful of false prophets and false teachers. Love the truth, believe the truth, and hold on to the truth. We are in the last days; do not turn away from the truth.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing and Bible teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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