When we remain under the teaching of unfaithful leaders, we actually reinforce their wayward behavior. They are most likely to take our continuous support as approval and become even bolder, as they move in the flesh rather than in the Spirit of God.
Eventually, false leaders come to a point where they assume they can teach anything, whether it is right or wrong, and the people won’t object. Charles Spurgeon made a powerful prophetic statement over a century ago that speaks to our generation. He said, “Everywhere there is apathy. Nobody cares whether that which is preached is true or false, a sermon is a sermon whatever the subject; only, the shorter it is the better.” How many attending churches in America today have the same feeling? And when church-goers have this spiritless attitude, false leaders become very comfortable asking their people for unreasonable things God has never required, including huge sums of wealth, real estate, or other material goods. They are able to get away with such things because of the apathy of most Christians who not only allow it but have come to expect it.
Why is this erroneous practice so common and so blatant? The reason is because we have not studied to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15). We have not confronted such behavior with Scripture and called a spade a spade. Instead of digging into Scripture to know God, we have accepted the words of charlatans, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and we have gone along with behaviors that would never have been allowed if the body of Christ had called them on it (2 Cor. 11:13-20). We do not discern the truth because we do not evaluate teaching in light of Scripture.
Those who have come out of false teaching often testify that they were blinded by charisma, and until the Holy Spirit revealed the truth they absolutely could not see through the deception. This is much like being in love and overlooking warning signs of abuse in your beloved. Even if a man is unfaithful, and the warning signs are there, some women disregard them, denying reality, thinking they are either overreacting or seeing things. And though friends may warn them, they refuse to face the truth until it is far too late and they are in over their heads and cannot escape. At that point the abused get upset with themselves and others because they have been deceived, humiliated, scarred, and perhaps even impoverished by a fraud.
People endure many painful things when they believe God is trying to teach them something. But they should know that God will never risk their souls to hell for the sake of a lesson. And though we may at first be blind to problems in a leader, once we have seen the light we must avail ourselves of the first chance to escape.
In truth, many times we are the ones refusing to let go. We have been sucked in, enamored, and have fallen in love with an evil system. Sometimes we try to hold on even when we know it is not working. Often God has already opened doors of escape, and yet we keep going back like a moth to a destructive flame. We may already have a witness in our spirits, but still things must really get worse before we are fed up and realize we have no other choice but to leave. At that point, it is time to shake the dust off our shoes and move on.
Some of us repeatedly set ourselves up for the same kind of behaviors that allow false leaders to take control, even knowing it did not work before. In some ways it is like an addiction we must keep feeding. How many times do we have to be promised that if we sow a seed we will see millions of dollars in ninety days? How many times will we hear and believe that the wealth of the wicked will be transferred to you?
While on this subject, it is interesting to note, that those who “teach” and “proph-lie” about a transfer of the world’s wealth never received their wealth from the world. They received it from us, the church! Do we really believe God will give us a one-hundred-times-blessing for every dollar we sow? Let us not forget what the Bible says about false teachers and their destruction: “In their greed they will make up cleaver lies to get a hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction is on the way.” (2 Pet. 2:3). What happened to common sense? What happened to “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is?”
Just because someone calls themselves God’s man or woman does not mean they are not in it for the money. How many times do we have to be fleeced before we stop and ask ourselves, “Where does it say that in the context of Scripture?” In the final analysis, if the Scripture does not say it, it is wrong! If it had been of God in the first place, that million-dollar blessing would have manifested exactly on time.
The reason a false leader gives a ninety-day deadline is because that gives him an out, usually enough time for the beguiled to forget his prophetic lie. False prophets are notorious for blaming the victim when the prophecies go unfulfilled. They claim the deceived misunderstood, or that they never said it to begin with, or that the misled did not have the requisite amount of faith. But whatever the reason, it is never the fault of the false shepherd. I am sure this rings bells for many readers.
When these things happen we often want to blame God, and yet if we are honest, we must take responsibility for not staying true to the Word. These situations with false prophets have nothing to do with God. The real issue is what is going on in our own lives to make us fall for get-rich-quick schemes. Why are we so driven by greed? If we would choose instead to love and trust God, demanding nothing in return, no one would ever be able to defraud us.
That brings up the subject of contentment. It is probably true that our culture struggles more than any other when it comes to being content with less than the best. Compared to most others in the world, we (Americans) do have the best. Some may say, “So why not always expect the best to make us content?” Yet where in Scripture are we ever promised these things? Jesus never said we would all be rich. In fact, he often taught that money could be a stumbling block, a temptation, and a snare. He said, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Luke 16:13). We will never be content unless we love God first and have a heart to use what we already have to promote the gospel of Christ. If we have that kind of heart, we cannot be fleeced and defrauded. If we have hidden God’s Word in our hearts and have pressed in to that secret place, we will know his plans for us, and not some false prophet’s plans for us.
Many in our day are peddling the Word of God for profit and making it say things God never intended (2 Cor. 2:17), especially when it comes to giving and what is called a “first fruits offering.” This is a repulsive scam that sounds so selfless but actually swindles the naive every time. According to the first letter to the Corinthians and in the book of Acts, our first fruits offering is not money but Jesus (1 Cor. 15:20; Acts 26:23). In the Old Testament, the first fruit offering was given during the Passover, to consecrate future harvests. All offerings were a type and shadow of Christ.
When Jesus died- -he was offered up–it was during Passover, which consecrated and pointed to a coming harvest of souls into the kingdom of God. But today, the false teachers run the scam by saying that if we give our best and largest gift first; we will have more than enough. They are so persuasive in this claim that they leave their people struggling to pay their bills, while the leader enjoys the fruits of their labors, often in the lap of luxury.
I often wonder how they can look themselves in the mirror knowing they are victimizing their friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ. But in their warped minds, they think they deserve it, though they did no legitimate work to earn it. As Solomon said, “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel” (Prov. 20:17). And “Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death” (Prov. 10:2).
It must break God’s heart to see these things happen so openly and so often in his church, because they are so far from his intent. Scripture says that such teachers will be punished most severely for taking advantage of the poor, widows, and the unwary (Luke 20:45-47).
False teachers conveniently tell their people that their lack of prosperity is due to a lack of faith. Blame-shifting is a huge red flag that should make us sit up and pay attention. In reality, the reason such prophecies do not come to pass is because God never spoke them in the first place.
After all, “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” (Lam. 3:37). Be warned, God will never stand behind a promise he did not make. And while he may still bring us out of such teaching, it is wise to consider the loss of money as a very and unforgettable lesson.
By Tavares Robinson