The Bible in 2 Corinthians 11:12 to 15 states: “But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
By Bishop Colin Nyathi
“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.”
How can you spot modern-day Judases? Satan has cunningly formed these imposters into look-alikes. Like any counterfeit, if we know what to look for, they can be detected.
False apostles and prophets are always marked by:
The dealings of God begin deep inside the individual to conform that person to Christ in personality and character.
2 Corinthians 3:18 reads: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The end result is that person will possess the internal make up of a servant of God. False apostles and prophets lack this internal make up and personality that is in true apostles and prophets. This is because they have not been transformed by the power of Christ from their old natures.
They call themselves and develop themselves. They are not, nor ever appear, completely changed by God. This lack of internal transformation by God’s power can ultimately be detected on two levels:
These men and women will possess no intimacy of relationship with Christ, they are not abiding in the vine. Matthew 7:23 reads: “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
False apostles and prophets will have no real relationship with true believers. They are false brethren. 2 Corinthians 11:26 reads: “. . . in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren.”
Galatians 2:4-5 states: “And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage) to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
False apostles and prophets can also be detected by their conduct. Paul spoke of their “cunning craftiness”. Ephesians 4:14 reads: “. . . 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.”
Their false practices are an extension of their false characters. Scripture reveals many practices that characterise false apostles and prophets and these include the following elements:
Secrecy and mystery in their doctrine and lives instead of openness. Galatians 2:4 and 5 notes: “And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” Keeping secrets is a good indication that something is wrong.
A spirit of bondage or control of others instead of promoting true liberty. Galatians 2:4 and 5 says: “And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
A true Apostle or prophet never wants to bind or control anyone
Manipulation through flattering words instead of speaking the truth in love. Romans 16:18 states: “For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. Ephesians 4:15: “ . . . but, speaking the truth in love may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ.”
Deception and pretence instead of honesty and integrity Matthew 7:15 says: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Matthew 24:11 reads: “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
False miracles born out of a demonic empowerment instead of true miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 24:24 says: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Penetrating the local church with their message instead of penetrating society with the gospel. Acts 20:29 reads: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”
Jude 4 states: “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
True apostles and prophets do not draw people to themselves. This is the work of false apostles and prophets. True apostles and prophets are concerned with winning the lost.
Detracting and drawing away from the local church and toward themselves instead of building it up and drawing people to Christ. Acts 20:30 says: “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
1 John 2 :19 and 26 reads: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.”
Pride: Watch out for this element in ministers, usually it’s a tell tale sign. Lucifer the father of lies fell because of pride. (Isaiah 14:11 to 17)
Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, And the sound of your stringed instruments; The maggot is spread under you, And worms cover you.
Verse 12 says: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.
“Those who see you will gaze at you, And consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms,’ Who made the world as a wilderness And destroyed its cities, Who did not open the house of his prisoners?”
Their teachings are not based on truth, but are rooted in deception and they draw others in with dark powers.
Four laws in dealing with false apostles, prophets and ministers
We are taught in scripture to respond to false ministers decisively, but spiritually.
Avoid coming under their influence
The first law is based on the principle of prevention. Avoid them at all costs before, they are able to bring their influence into your life. In Romans 16:17, Paul states: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. Titus 3:9 reads: “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.”
Abandon all connections with them
Totally separate and withdraw yourself from false apostles and prophets.
This law is based on the principle of preservation. 1 Corinthians 15:33 which says: “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.”
1 Timothy 6:5 says: “Useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.”
Our motive is not fear, but prudence as we distance ourselves from them
Admonish and exhort them to cease from their false practices. False ministers must be challenged by godly men. Titus 1:9 states: “. . . holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”
Alert others in the body of Christ of their works
Romans 16:17 reads: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”
This law is based upon the principles of protection
Scripture is clear that apostolic and prophetic ministry will be targeted by Satan for neutralisation because it constitutes a threat to the demonic kingdom. A company of false apostles and prophets have arisenconcurrent with the company of the true.
The aim of this demonic assault will be to weaken the true and detract from its effect on the earth. That the enemy will be defeated by the church is clear, the modern movement of Judas Iscariots will hang themselves and ultimately fall, while the true will move forward to receive power and claim the nations.