[Excerpts from The Polluted Church: From Rome to Kansas City]
A Doll and a Wooden Horse
“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” Romans 10:2
One night a family was asleep in their house when the father was awakened by the smell of smoke. He jumped up and saw flames everywhere. He told his wife to get their six year old daughter out of the house while he went to get their baby. His wife got their daughter and ran out into the front yard. A neighbor saw the flames and called the fire department. The father tried to get to the baby, but the flames were too high and intense in front of the baby’s room. He felt himself about to pass out from smoke inhalation and realized that he had to run outside for some air.
When the father reached the front yard, he passed out and was tended to by the paramedics who had just arrived. The mother began to panic and scream for someone to get her baby out of the house. By this time, the burning house was about to cave in from the damage. Then, a fireman dressed in all of his equipment with some fireproof blankets in hand ran over to the mother. He asked her how to get to the baby’s room. After receiving directions, the fireman ran through the flames that engulfed the front door and felt his way down the hall to the last room on the right. He had to run through intense smoke and flames into the baby’s room that was also full of smoke. He reached into crib, snatched up the baby, and wrapped her in the fireproof blankets as he turned to run back out of the house.
As he ran out of the front door, the crowd that had gathered outside cheered and then the entire house caved in behind him. The burning roof and ceilings had completely come down. He quickly made his way to the paramedics who were standing beside the terrified mother. He handed over the precious bundle to the medics as the mom looked on anxiously. They frantically un-wrapped the blankets and then everyone heard the mother’s horrific scream, “Oh my God! You got a doll! You got a doll!”
I know the above parable is an intense story, but it illustrates a very important truth: A person can be very sincere, but be sincerely wrong. The fireman in my story could not have been more sincere in his desire and attempt to save the baby from the fire. He gave it his all and even risked his life, but he was fooled by a counterfeit and the baby died in the fire.
So, we see that sincerity, good motives, selfless actions, and good works are not always enough. We have to get things right. We cannot let ourselves be fooled by a counterfeit and end up getting the main objective wrong. There is just too much at stake. Even the most well trained military with the best strategy can lose the battle and the war if their enemy out maneuvers or deceives them in some way.
The legend of the fall of Troy is a perfect illustration of this principle. The Greeks had besieged the city of Troy for ten years and could not penetrate the walls of the city or force the Trojans out. The Greek army finally devised a new plan. They built a large wooden horse (the symbol of Troy) which they left outside the city as a “gift”. After the Greek army packed up and sailed away, the Trojans pulled the large horse into their city. They ignored the warning of one man not to do so and they rejoiced at their victory. That night thirty soldiers that were hidden inside the wooden structure crept out and opened the gate for the Greek army who had sailed back under the cover of darkness.
The Trojans opened their gates and accepted something from their enemy. They let down their guard because the large wooden horse looked like the symbol of their own country. It seemed harmless; but, there was evil lurking inside that “gift.” This is exactly what many in the church have done; they have opened the gates of the city to the false gifts of the enemy. And they do not realize that while they are rejoicing in their apparent victories and these false gifts, the demons are creeping out to destroy them from within.
The “Trojan horse” that has been accepted within every part of the church is a deception called contemplative prayer. Some call it meditation, soaking, or centering prayer. It is veiled in Christian lingo and justified by Scripture (used out of context or without correct definitions of words), but is full of occult techniques from eastern religions and witchcraft. The teachers of this perverted form of prayer encourage things like repeating words or phrases over and over for long periods of time in meditative prayer, visualizing images of Jesus, the Father, God’s throne, healings or light within themselves and many other occult practices. It can also be done by focusing on the rhythm of one’s breathing or an object like an icon or the flame of a candle. The goal is to quiet the mind through a passive eastern-style meditation as a way to connect with the “divine presence” and generate mystical/prophetic experiences like “visiting the third heaven” at will.
Sadly, the primary perpetrators of spreading these demonic doctrines are many well-known and respected Evangelical, Charismatic, and Catholic ministers. Many of them are also operating in spirits of divination while claiming their abilities are from the Holy Spirit. Some of them are as sincere as the fireman who ran through the fire to rescue the baby, but they are terribly deceived. Others know exactly what they are doing because they are agents of Satan who are purposely trying to undermine and destroy good churches and true Christians. But regardless of the motives, these occult practices are opening people up to dangerous spirits and beliefs.
As I stated before, the Lord Jesus warned concerning the last days,
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ (or anointed); and shall deceive many...and many false prophets shall rise, and deceive many...” (Matthew 24:4-5, 11).
The Apostle Paul also warned that in the last days
“...evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).
The Greek word used in all of these verses for deceive is planao and it means: to cause to roam from safety, truth, or virtue; go astray, err, wander, seduce (seduced), be out of the way. The Lord went on in Matthew 24 to warn that these false prophets would use “great signs and wonders” in their attempts to deceive even the very elect of God.
As I was putting the finishing touches on this book, I rediscovered a book that I read in 1999 by John Bevere called, Thus Saith the Lord? John Bevere is an anointed prophetic minister, teacher, and the best-selling author of The Bait of Satan and The Fear of the Lord. He is Biblically sound and Holy Spirit led. His book Thus Saith the Lord is about the prophetic gifts and ministry. To me, it is one of the best books ever written on the subject. The back cover gives this brief description,
“How do you know when God is speaking? Today there is an insatiable hunger for the prophetic word of the Lord. Christians are eager to receive “words from the Lord” and share them. Along with the genuine desire for the real comes a vulnerability to excessive or counterfeit prophetic ministry.”
After many years of having a national and international ministry and preaching at some of the largest and most influential Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and conferences, Bevere wrote,
“Today the church has been infiltrated with the counterfeit prophetic. As a result, it has literally been polluted...The counterfeit is now more popular and readily accepted than the true....If the early church leaders from the book of Acts attended some of our prophetic conferences their mouths would drop open in utter shock and amazement. They would then weep as Jeremiah, hearts broken by the pollution of the prophetic ministry.”
As I reread the book, the Lord drew my attention to the many horror stories that Bevere shared of churches and individuals being defiled and misled by the demonic divination of many “accepted” prophets and prophetesses. He described many of them as “well-known” or “respected” prophets. He also told of a national prophetic conference with all kinds of hype and foolishness and in his words, “...every one of the ministers involved in the conference is known nationally.” As I read that I thought, “John Bevere (a well-known and respected Charismatic leader) stated in a book that the prophetic ministry across America and the world was polluted and given over to deception and divination. And that was twelve years ago! Unfortunately, it is a thousand times worse now!”
Though I am disappointed that John Bevere did not mention any of the names of those “well-known” prophetic ministries that were doing so much damage, I can see the wisdom of just getting that message out without the controversy of naming names. But finding his book was a confirmation from the Lord to me about writing this book. The Lord made it clear to me that it is time to give names and expose some of the false teachings and deceived prophets among us. Too many of them have gained too much power and influence and they are leading an entire generation of Christians into supernatural experiences conjured up by visualization, chanting, and other pagan practices.
This is not a book of secondhand information. I have had my own encounters with some of these “well-known” prophetic ministries and experienced the demonic power and defilement for myself. I have watched utter destruction come into the lives of friends and young believers from their involvement with these ministers and their spirits of divination. My heart has been exceedingly troubled as I have seen the exponential growth of these defiled prophetic and prayer ministries in the last twenty years.
I know that many will not like the things that I have to say and they will accuse me of not walking in love and unity, but the truth must be told. That is why I have thoroughly documented the quotes and teachings of the ministers that have been named in this book and I have compared them to the Bible. My prayer is that people will hear and break free from the deception and demonic defilement that are running rampant in the church today.
I like the way A.W. Tozer said it,
“Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against LOVE by daring to inquire into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of God. They timidly remember how the Pharisees refused to accept Christ when He came, and they do not want to be caught in the same snare, so they either reserve judgment or shut their eyes and accept everything without question. This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality. But in sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the absence of the Holy Spirit. Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be. Try the spirits is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the genuine. And the current habit of refusing to take sides is not the way to avoid the question. To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world and the more as we see the day approaching.”
To Judge or Not to Judge
So is it Biblical to judge and determine whether prophets and other ministers are operating in deceiving spirits or teaching dangerous false doctrines? And if so, is it Biblical to publicly expose them? Some say that we should not judge anyone for anything. Others say yes we should discern the false teachers and prophets among us, but we should not publically expose them. They claim that exposing these “brothers” does not show God’s love or promote unity and they use scripture that warns of the dangers of “pulling some wheat up with the chaff”. So, what does the Bible say about this?
If we look at the way the apostles handled false teachers and troublemakers then we have a clear answers to these questions. They fought heresy by teaching the truth AND warning the churches of certain individuals publicly. They called out the names of “brothers” in error and put them out of the church if they did not stop spreading their false teachings. For example, the Apostle Paul called Hymenaeus and Alexander out by name for their error and blasphemy and even turned them over to Satan (1 Timothy 1:19-20). Paul also publically named Phygellus and Hermogenes who turned away from him in Asia (2 Timothy 1:15). He made it known that the once faithful servant Demas had forsaken him, having loved this present world more (2 Timothy 4:9-10). And the Apostle John, in his third epistle, publically named the church leader Diotrephes and told exactly what he was doing wrong and then instructed the church not to follow him.
In the second century, Irenaeus (one of the first great Christian theologians) wrote a book entitled Against Heresies. It was a very detailed attack on the errors of Christian Gnosticism in which he exposed the many false teachers of that time. He directed people back to the authority of the Scriptures and was one of the earliest people to point out the canonical character of the four gospels.
In 1 Corinthians 14:29, Paul taught, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” Concerning prophetic ministry 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Prove (test) all things; hold fast that which is good.” And remember Jesus commended the church of Ephesus for “…testing those who say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars.” Therefore, we clearly see from these examples that it is Biblical to judge and publicly expose those operating in deceiving spirits or serious false doctrine. It is not love to let the sheep (and especially the young ones) wander into a valley full of wolves without warning them and/or trying to stop them.
The “don’t judge” verses in Matthew 7:1-2 are probably the most misused and misunderstood verses in the Bible. Truly Jesus did say,
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
However, that is not where the Lord stopped His teaching about judging. He went on to tell us what He meant. He continued,
“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).
Thus, Jesus was not saying that we should not see clearly and help our brother get the problem out of his eye, but rather, that we should deal with ourselves first and then help our brother. In other words, if I am in the sin of adultery, I would be a hypocritical judge if I pointed out my brother’s adultery and tried to get him out of it. But if I am NOT in adultery, then I can see clearly to point out my brother’s issue and help him out of it…if he will listen.
If we continue on in the same chapter of Matthew just a few verses down, our Lord Jesus said this,
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits…” (Matthew 7:15-16).
The word here ‘beware’ here is defined in the Greek dictionary as to hold the mind towards, that is, pay attention to, be cautious about, apply oneself to. Thus, we are to give attention to the subject of false prophets who appear to be true Christians and apply ourselves to examining their spiritual fruit that becomes evident in what they teach and their behavior. Jesus made it clear that we were to be cautious about these wolves in sheep’s clothing because they can do great harm. We must be ALERT! Being naive or indifferent about false prophets and teachers in the church is not what Jesus taught. This is why Paul instructed the young pastor Titus to deal firmly with those who were promoting error in the church in Crete. He told Titus that there are those...
“Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not…wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:10-14).
Then, if all of that was not enough, we see in the book of Revelation that the Lord gave the Apostle John seven specific prophetic messages for seven churches in Asia Minor. Each prophetic word was directed toward the pastors of those churches and even mentioned a couple of people by name. One person was recognized as being a faithful martyr for Jesus and the other was exposed as a false prophetess and teacher. He called the churches to repent and deal with the problems or else certain judgments would come upon them. So, if it is wrong to judge the true from the false and name those who are leading people into danger, then the Apostle John was wrong and we should throw out the book of Revelation (along with the other books he wrote). Of course that is not the answer...the answer is to get back to Biblical Christianity. We need discernment, the genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit, and to understand that demonic defilement can and does affect Christians.
The Church of Thyatira & False Prophets
“…for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness (defilement) gone forth into all the land.” Jeremiah 23:15
I want to make something abundantly clear before I address the reality of the counterfeit supernatural that has crept into many churches - I am NOT against the gifts of the Holy Spirit or demonstrations of the power of God. I have been a minister in the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement since 1987. I attended an Assemblies of God church with my great aunts and great grandmother when I was a child. I witnessed the real gifts of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, and healings in that church. I personally speak in tongues and have experienced all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit at one time or another in my life and ministry. I have seen God work awesome miracles and healings through the name of Jesus Christ and I have received His guidance many times. I love the real presence of God and hearing His still small voice. God has given me prophetic words (as He wills) to share with individuals, churches and even political leaders. I believe in casting out demons and have done so quite often throughout my years of ministry.
However, as I stated in chapter one, many Christians today are using guided visualization to conjure up or create their own visions through their imaginations. Some practice eastern-style meditation (which quiets the mind or creates trance-like states) by using repetitious phrases, words or sounds. And though they may make it all sound Christian by quoting a Bible verse like, “Be still and know that I am God,” this type of meditation/prayer was condemned by Jesus as pagan and He forbade it in Matthew 6:9. Some Christians are even practicing Yoga which is a Hindu form of worship to the sun god. They are either ignorant or don’t care that each position of Yoga is a different bow or expression of worship to the sun god. Then there are others who have learned to make their human spirit travel outside of their body by an act of their own will. This type of spirit travel (done at will) is called astral projection and has been practiced by occultists for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, this issue is nothing new. God’s people have always had a problem mixing pagan ways and rituals in with their worship of Jehovah God. There is an awful tendency to fall for the deceptions of false prophets and teachers. It is a sad commentary on the human condition, but we see it happening throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament.
One such example was when Moses went up on the mountain to talk to God and the people demanded that Aaron create gods to go before them. Aaron (being a weak leader) made a molten calf and they said,
“These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
So, they created an image of what they thought God looked like and then gave that image credit for delivering them from Egypt. Then, the Bible tells us that,
“…when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”
It is important to note that the word “Lord” in this verse is the Hebrew word Jehovah—the covenant name of the God of Abraham. The molten calf was an Egyptian idol, thus the Israelites copied something from pagan worship and then called a feast to Jehovah. And while the people were having a big worship party “for the Lord,” the Lord spoke to Moses and said, “
Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” As a result of this “mixture” many of God’s people died that day for their sins and many others were plagued by the Lord (see Exodus 32).
Many years later just before God brought judgment to His people in the form of the Babylonian invasion and exile, the Bible tells us that God’s people went after ALL the abominations of the heathen and even brought it into the house of God.
“Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD. And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel. Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:11-16).
Now, for those of you who think Old Testament examples do not apply to New Testament believers, here is what Paul taught about Israel’s sins in the wilderness,
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:5-12).
The Apostle Paul went on to teach in the same chapter that any participation in pagan religious rituals or worship is having “fellowship with devils.” He warned,
“But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have FELLOWSHIP with DEVILS” (1 Corinthians 10:20).
In verse 14 he told them to, “Flee idolatry” and to the church at Colosse he warned,
“Let no man beguile you of your reward (in Greek: defraud you of your salvation) in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” (Colossians 2:18).
The Church of Thyatira is a perfect New Testament example of a good church that gave place to a false prophetess and her false doctrines. It also reveals a lot about what is going on in many of our Spirit-filled churches right now. Jesus sent a prophetic message to the church of Thyatira through John saying,
“I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because you sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols (partake in pagan practices). And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed (Greek says “sickbed”) and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:19-23).
Notice that the first thing Jesus did here was commend the church of Thyatira for some things they were doing right. He told them that they had true Christian love and service. They also manifested the fruit of patience and walked in a good level of faith (which means they were probably seeing people receive miraculous healings in the name of the Lord). Most Christians would be satisfied with all of that and think that they had an awesome church. However, the good things they were doing did not magically erase their serious problems. We know this because Jesus did not overlook their issues for the sake of keeping peace and unity, but instead, He had the Apostle John address their sins and false teachings directly. The Lord even had John call the name of the main false prophetess. He also warned them about the serious judgments of sickness and death that would come to those who continued to associate with the false prophetess and commit sin. Jesus revealed that He had given grace and time to repent, but it is evident that the leaders of the church at Thyatira were not listening to the Holy Spirit and responding to His conviction. This is why Jesus had to get a prophet that was listening (the Apostle John) to give such a specific prophetic word of rebuke.
Let’s take a closer look at the problems Jesus addressed in the Church of Thyatira. First of all, the church leaders were allowing a woman named Jezebel who claimed to have supernatural revelations from God (this is what a prophetess or prophet does) to teach the people of God. She must have impressed them with her “prophetic gifts” or supernatural manifestations because the pastor and elders LET her teach. Please notice, she did not usurp this position of authority as the traditional teaching of the “Jezebel spirit” suggests. No, they let her teach. Secondly, she was teaching some form of doctrine that seduced the people of God into pagan practices and sexual sin. Maybe she taught a form of “once saved, always saved” so they thought it did not really matter if they ate things sacrificed to idols or had sex outside of marriage. Maybe she taught them the error that, “God is so in love with you that he understands your sexual desires and it is all already forgiven anyway.” Or maybe she told them that they were a “special group” chosen by God to reach a state above other Christians. Whatever her teachings were, they led the people of God into compromise with occult practices and sexual sin.
In this passage the Lord Jesus reveals that He had tried to get Jezebel to repent, but she would not. This means that the Holy Spirit had at least convicted her about what she was doing. God may have even sent her a message of correction from a true prophet before John sent His letter. But regardless of how Jesus gave her “space to repent” she did not want anything to do with that harsh “repent or perish” message. She resisted the Holy Spirit and would not let go of her false teachings or her sins. And why should she? The “great” ministry at Thyatira recognized and honored her with a place to minister among them. If her leaders allowed her to continue teaching and prophesying, why should she quit? The money was rolling in and the conferences were filled! However, the writing was on the wall for Thyatira because the Lord Jesus was about to deal with those leaders severely. His judgments would include sickness, death, and/or great trouble to those who continued to associate with her. And this is why you have to be careful who you associate with and who you allow to be a spiritual mentor in your life.
But the main thing we need to see from all of this at Thyatira is that a false prophetic ministry was working INSIDE a church that had some very good things happening in their ministry. This is what makes what was going on in the church of Thyatira so dark and dangerous: It was cloaked by some legitimate and even anointed ministry. A sincere (but weak in discernment) pastor who had some good things happening in his church allowed a person with counterfeit prophetic gifts to seduce God’s people into occult practices and sexual immorality. And Jesus called that kind of deception in His church “the depths of Satan” (Revelation 2:24). It wasn’t a minor problem. It was and still is the very depth of satanic destruction working against God’s people.
The prophet Jeremiah had to deal with the same problem in his ministry. There were many misguided prophets in those days as well. One such confrontation happened with a prophet named Hananiah. The true word of the Lord from Jeremiah was that the 70 year judgment was unavoidable. However, he had warned them that it would end up better for them if they submitted to the king of Babylon. But as is the way of the false prophets, Hananiah wanted to give a good and positive word in front of everyone in the house of the Lord. He contradicted what Jeremiah had been telling them even though the first part of Jeremiah’s prophecy had come to pass with Nebuchadnezzar’s first invasion. Hananiah prophesied that within two years the Lord would restore all of the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the house of the Lord and that God would break his yoke off of the people of Israel, bringing the people who were taken captive back home. It all sounded good, but here is what happened,
“Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD...So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.”
And Nebuchadnezzar invaded again and took all of the Jews (except for Jeremiah and a small remnant) into Babylonian captivity for seventy years just like Jeremiah had prophesied (see Jeremiah 27-28 & Daniel 9).
Here is some irony: Hananiah was listed in Jeremiah as the son of Azur. Hananiah in Hebrew means Jah has favored and Azur means helpful. So, there is no doubt in my mind that Hananiah believed that he was a favored and anointed prophet of God. I am also sure that he believed that he was being helpful. Maybe he had been used of God in the past and flowed in the anointing to prophesy, but somehow he had let his own desires and his own imagination cause him to prophesy the opposite of what God was really saying. Jeremiah said that Hananiah’s positive prophetic word caused the people to “trust in a lie” and that he was “teaching rebellion against the Lord.” Then we see that the Lord struck Hananiah dead for prophesying his “positive” lies.
It is not any different today. There are well-meaning ministers and even prophets of the God that believe they are favored of the Lord and being helpful, but they have gotten off track. Some of them have drifted into dangerous areas because they ALWAYS want to be positive, encouraging, and loving so they have ceased to hear the true word of the Lord. By shutting out the “negative” words of coming judgment and the serious need for repentance from sin, they end up prophesying out of their own spirits. It is not that God doesn’t have a good or positive word at times, but by shutting themselves off to the “whole counsel of God” and even godly correction, they operate from a faulty foundation. You see, Hananiah’s prophecy about God’s restoration from Babylon was just off by 68 years. And the reason it was off was because he did not see the gravity of the sin issue and God’s justification for such a long and devastating judgment. Thus, his unbiblical view of God opened him up to deceiving spirits.
In Jeremiah 23, the prophet wrote in great detail about the problems with many of the prophets of his day. Starting in verse nine, Jeremiah says,
“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets…for both prophet and priest are profane (defiled, polluted, corrupt, and wicked); yea, in My house have I found their wickedness, says the Lord (vs. 11)…And I have seen folly (frivolity or foolishness, lightheartedness, laughing, joking, giddiness, overexcitement, flightiness and dizziness) in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied by Baal (a demon spirit), and caused My people Israel to err (go astray)…I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness (they aren’t putting forth a strong enough message to get people to truly turn from sin)… thus… from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness (to soil especially in a moral sense, corruptness, pollution and defilement) gone forth into all the land”(vs.15).
In other words, Jeremiah was saying that these prophets were defiled by their own sin and idolatry and thus they were prophesying by a demon spirit while claiming it was from the Lord. And though they were prophesying in the name of the Lord, they really were not being successful in getting people to turn from their wickedness. Rather, through their lies and false teachings, they were strengthening evildoers in their sins. And because these prophets were operating in spirits of divination, Jeremiah said that they had spread demonic defilement into all the land. God went on to tell Jeremiah,
“Thus says the Lord of host, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy of you: they make you vain (to be vain in act, word, or expectation; specifically to lead astray): they speak a vision of their own heart (their own feelings and intellect), and not out of the mouth of the Lord” (vs. 16).
Then after God speaks of His anger and the judgment that is going to fall on them, He says,
“…in the latter days you shall consider it perfectly” (vs. 20)
…a direct reference to our time.
And like the Israel of old and the Church of Thyatira, we have our Hananiahs and Jezebels. They are known for some amazing predictions coming to pass like comets, earthquakes, and even snow in the summer. They tell of incredible visions and revelations, and even miracles of healing, yet, they are seducing thousands into dangerous practices and beliefs that are opening them up to demonic oppression and possession.
For instance, in the spring of 2009, I ran into a group of college students one day on the campus of Auburn University. They all seemed to be fired up young people, eager to witness and hungry for God to move, but then I began to notice some strange beliefs and weird behavior. For example, one guy told me that he and a friend were in a church parking lot one night after a service “praying to fly up into the air.” I am not kidding. Another guy tried to convince me that a person could “stay drunk in the Spirit” or get that way whenever they wanted. They even used some blasphemous names for what they think is the Holy Spirit like Godka and Jehovah-juana. I even had to rebuke one of them on Facebook regarding a post where he said, “Jesus is bisexual.” Others of them have extreme views on God’s grace and have no concept of God’s hatred toward sin and the requirement of repentance and holiness. Most of them have bought into the lie that they are saved no matter how they live.
As I got to know them, I discovered that they were all a part of a prayer group in Auburn, Alabama where I live. I went to one of their main meetings and I also went with them witnessing on the campus. I have prayed with them and had coffee with their leader. I can say that I know they love Jesus and are very sincere in what they are doing. However, I knew something was amiss due to all the weirdness I was hearing from different ones.
Then one day, I noticed that their leader was promoting a minister named John Crowder on his Facebook page. He was recommending Crowder’s book, The New Mystics to these college students. They had been watching that deceiver’s videos and even going to some of his meetings. He is one of the worst Charis-maniac nuts that I have ever seen. In his book, Crowder encourages contemplative prayer and seeking after the spiritual experiences that idolatrous Roman Catholic monks and nuns had after hours of repetitious chanting and visualization. I was in shock and could not believe that this Christian leader would endorse such a guy. Unfortunately, he would not listen to the facts and over the next couple of years I watched some of them get further out there and drift deeper into error and sin.
Sadly, most of them will not listen to any voice of caution. They are consumed with chasing the supernatural and accept almost anyone who can produce a “miracle” or give them a word of “prophecy.” They just do not realize that they are being polluted and opening doors to demons that can destroy them. As God said through the prophet Hosea,
“Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment” (Lamentations 2:14).
“Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:5-6).
The Apostle Paul gave a warning to the church of Ephesus and it was included in the Bible as a warning to us as well.
“Wherefore I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:26-31).
In this passage, the reference to “wolves” is referring to what Jesus said about false prophets “which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly (inside, their inner parts i.e. spirit and soul parts) are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). But he adds that “…of your own selves shall men arise…” with deceptions. In other words, not all of the danger will come from enemies outside of the church, but from men among us who may mean well. The Greek word for “perverse” is diastrepho and means to distort, misinterpret, or morally corrupt. The word “distort” means to warp, alter, or twist out of true meaning. And “misinterpret” means to understand or explain wrongly. Boy is there a lot of this going on in the church world right now!
God told Ezekiel,
“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word” (Ezekiel 13:2-6).
In other words, God called the prophets “of Israel” to prophesy against or expose, rebuke, and correct other prophets “of Israel” who were following their own spirit and really operating in divination. Sadly, those deceived prophets of Israel really believed that they were speaking for Yahweh, the God of Israel. However, they had created false hope and led many into pagan practices just before total judgment came upon their nation. May God help us turn many to righteousness and His truth in these last days.