15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Mat. 7:15-23
Notice Jesus warned us to “Beware of false prophets”. This means, simply, that we have been forewarned. When you have been warned of something, that means that you have a responsibility to heed that warning – unless, of course, you are deaf, and you did not therefore hear the warning in the first place.
But you would be shocked to learn today that a large proportion of the church is dead deaf. That is the only conclusion one can come up with when we see how God’s people are rushing headlong into the arms of “false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”.
Jesus said we would know His servants by their fruits, not by the supernatural works they would be performing. But today, few heed this warning.
Today, in Africa, there is something called “power”. Across churches on every Sunday, you hear, “Power!!” People are mesmerized by the powerful works that are being performed in these churches. And many of the men who perform these works are bigger than Jesus Himself. But I believe it is more important to heed Jesus’ warning to “beware” than to go after these things, however important they are.
In any case, there are many of these marvellous works that are not from God, but from the devil. The Bible says the devil is capable of transforming himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
I recently heard of a powerful Jewish rabbi in New York who was facing criminal charges in court for secretly videotaping women who underwent a certain Jewish ritual which requires them to strip naked and submerge themselves into a pool of water, while being observed by an all-male group of rabbis. (What a sad lot, the people who are under these laws and men!)
This man also engaged in extra-marital sex with many of the women that were under his control.
This was a man who had absolute sway over thousands, probably millions of people. And it is on record that he was a religious bully who possessed a cold heart. But people simply were not able to read that. And yet… Jesus had long forewarned them.
I wonder why it is so difficult for believers to understand that true power resides in a humble, broken spirit.
Today, many, many men of God who perform powerful supernatural works in the Spirit are engaging in all kinds of sins, and against the very people they are supposed to be leading to heaven. They are proud, arrogant and contemptuous of God’s people; they fleece people’s bank accounts, they are committing adultery… and all this is happening in church. That is why Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits”, because they would be doing these things in church.
What many believers fail to realize is that God uses such men simply because everything is God’s servant. God can use anything to bring about His purpose. There are no limits to what God can use. He uses both the good and the bad. He even uses the devil to do His will.
But that does not mean that every one of the things that God uses are going to heaven. The donkey that God used to warn Balaam is not going to have a front seat in heaven just because God used him; he will not even be there. The “messenger of Satan” that God used to buffet Paul (2 Cor. 12:7), you will not find in heaven. Nor, alas! many of the people who have led others to Christ. And “many”, Jesus said, of the ministers of God who have performed mighty works in the Spirit, will be turned away. Not every minister will go to heaven.
But everything is God’s servant, and God uses anyone and anything to fulfill His purposes.
But worldly-minded men are using God’s supernatural gifts to draw God’s people after themselves. And considering the fact that God’s people are hard of hearing, they are rushing into these men’s churches like the Niagara.
But then, again, you can fool the whole world, but you cannot fool God. Jesus said that when that day of reckoning comes, He Himself will tell many of the people who did His powerful works, “I never knew you: depart from me…”
How can it be that men who have:
1. “… prophesied in thy name?” (How many are prophesying in the Name of Jesus today?)
2. “… and in thy name have cast out devils?”
3. “… and in thy name done many wonderful works…”
how can it be that Jesus will tell such people, “I never knew you: depart from me”?
It is because these men and women failed to take up their cross and follow Christ. Sadly, these people never got the revelation of the cross in their lives, and they therefore failed to identify their lives with Christ’s in His suffering and death. They never allowed God to go deep down into their hearts and do a circumcision there. On the contrary, they allowed sin and the flesh to rule their lives.
The cross is the only place where sin can be defeated. Sin is not scared of miracles. You can perform all the miracles in the world; or, alternatively, you can have all the miracles performed on you; but that won’t change you in the least. It will not remove sin in your life. What will change you is a work of the cross in your life.
That is why I love the cross. The cross cuts across the entire spectrum of humankind. The cross does not care who you are. It does not tremble in the presence of “mighty men of God”, or any man. The cross seeks out the flesh in a man and crucifies it.
If Jesus underwent the cross, if Paul and the other apostles took up their cross and followed Christ, how much more we?
In any case, the church should wake up and stop being so gullible. The treasure is not the miracles, or the prophecies, or the healings … these may be important, but the true treasure is the life of Christ in us. And only the crucifixion of the flesh can bring that about.
Moreover, we have been forewarned, by Jesus Himself, to know what is important in our lives, and to not be drawn by the flattery of men.
[Below: Travelers wait to board the newly-inaugurated ferry at the new Musoma pier]