Guided by Deceiving Spirits

The strongest evidence for Roman Catholicism summed up in two sentences are: “The Catholic Church is the only true Church on earth because it was founded by Jesus Christ. It is trustworthy because its offices are so divinely guided by the Holy Spirit that they can never go astray.”

This narrative is drawn from the Catholic catechism:

The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit: in the Scriptures he inspired; in the Traditions, to which the Fathers are always timely witnesses; in the Church’s Magisterium, which he assists…” (8:2:688)

Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church (par. 4, sec. 892).

This is the typical circular argument of Rome: “We are divinely guided because we say so!” Catholics assert that Protestantism lacks this guidance, hence is not divinely protected from errors unlike the holy Catholic church. But history and current realities, however, present a starkly different picture.

For centuries, the popes, bishops, church fathers, doctors and priests of Rome largely adhered to the historicity of Biblical narratives, reality of Bible prophecy, inspiration and traditional authorship of Scripture. But right from the mid 20th century, a paradigm shift began to emerge among Rome’s hierarchy.

Modern Catholic scholars have embraced modernist and liberal positions that deny the historicity of the Bible, the reality of Bible prophecy, the inspiration and traditional authorship of Scripture. Robert Sungenis, a Catholic apologist, captures how terrible the state of affairs is among Rome’s scholars and clergies:

“I could not recommend any of them to you. To a man (and woman) these teachers believe the Bible is riddled with historical and “religious” errors … For them, the Bible is mainly the work of man, and only a few parts were actually inspired by the Holy Spirit. They do not believe most of the historical narratives in Scripture ever took place (e.g, Adam and Eve, Noah) and they believe much of the Gospels were made up by either the evangelists or the generations that came after them.

“They question the resurrection of Christ, the immaculate conception of Mary, the infallibility of the pope, the existence of the devil or hell, and many other cardinal doctrines of the historic Catholic faith.

“In brief, these lectures are indicative of the sad state of affairs in Catholic academia and scholarship today. Today’s Catholic scholars took over where the Protestant liberals left off at the turn of the 20th century, and they are much worse than the Protestant liberals ever were. They simply do not have the traditional faith of our Fathers and medievals any longer.”

This is the true state of Catholicism today, and it poses a dilemma for its apologists. On the one hand, they defend Rome’s dogmas but on the other, Rome’s hierarchy has relinquished much of its theology.

An average Catholic in the pew is made happy by being told his/her Church has the deposit of truth from the apostles, but the higher ups know better; they know that those deposits have long been emptied onto the sidewalk and the treasury is filled with husks.

Right from the time of Augustine down to the Middle Ages, Rome’s position was that “outside the church there is no salvation.” The Council of Florence (1442) officially declared that “no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

But at the turn of the 20th century, a significant shift took place in Catholic theology from exclusivism to inclusivism:

“In other words, Catholic belief moved from holding “outside the church no salvation” to “without the church no salvation.” During the first half of the twentieth century, Catholic theologians came up with ingenious concepts to include within the church any trace of salvation outside it: saved non-Christians belonged to the “soul” of the church; they were “attached,” “linked,” “related” to the church; they were members “imperfectly,” “tangentially”, “potentially” (Paul Knitter, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 1984, 8:50).

This is at 180 degrees of separation from what the Bible says about the unsaved (Jn. 3:18, 36; Eph. 2:1-2 etc). To maintain their apple cart, popular Catholic apologists are frozen up at different eras. Some in the Victorian period; some in pre-Vatican II whilst others follow wherever the current pope blows.

Their own theologians and scholars are their own enemies and this should make a truth-seeking Catholic ask some pertinent questions.

In the final week of April 2017, the tweets from Pope Francis @pontifex said:

April 26: Let’s promote friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions in order to build a world of peace

April 27: Please pray for my journey tomorrow as a pilgrim of peace to Egypt

April 28: We are called to walk together, in the conviction that the future also depends on the encounter of religions and cultures.

These tweets preceded Pope Francis’ ecumenical visit to a Coptic church and Al-Azhar mosque in Egypt. On April 9 2017, two suicide bombers attacked two Coptic churches, St. George and St. Mark, killing 45 people.

During his visit, Francis embraced the Grand Imam of the Al Azhar mosque, Ahmad al-Tayeb who urged the West (read: Christians) not to hold Islam accountable for the crimes of any small group of followers. If Islamic terrorism is executed by just “a small group” of Muslims why has it persisted in Egypt for centuries?

In his inclusive message, the pope called on Muslims to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, and expose every form of hatred in the name of religion and to condemn these idolatrous caricatures of God. But such these vices are enshrined in Islam and no amount of pussyfooting with alter them.

You see, Pope Francis is toeing the very politically correct lines as the godless liberal crowd. Barely a month after his visit to Egypt, on May 26 2017, at least 28 Coptic Christians were again killed and dozens more wounded by Muslim jihadists. Nothing changed.

The armies of Allah are completely deaf to jaded ecumenical tropes. After a French Catholic priest was murdered by ISIS members while celebrating Mass in 2015, Pope Francis, instead of denouncing Islamic violence, deliberately gave a carefully worded talk that avoided using the terms “Islam” and “terrorism.” When a journalist questioned him on his politically correctness , Pope Francis replied:

There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must also speak of Catholic violence … and no, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent … I believe that in pretty much every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists … We have them. When Fundamentalism comes to kill, it can kill with the language – the Apostle James says this, not me – and even with a knife, no? I do not believe it is right to identify Islam with violence” (Catholic Online 8/3/2016).

There are a number of howlers in this response, but the most obvious (and annoying) of them was his utilizing an absurd moral equivalence argument to justify Islamic violence. This is simply reprehensible.

Interestingly, after this interview, ISIS publicly replied Pope Francis and others who argue that Islam is a peaceful religion, calling them liars “delivering a false narrative.” They reiterated that Christianity is “a religion of polytheism” and warned that there will be more of their terror attacks.

When one considers the moral and spiritual background of Islam and how the popes have sweetly flattered it for decades, a truthful Catholic must admit that these men are spiritual blind bats influenced by lying and deceiving spirits.

The Magisterium is supposed to be a quality control system divinely guided to safeguard truth – not corrupt, subvert or deny it. But when that institution is found blighted with apostasy, theological detours, moral depravity and outright deception, then it is evidence that it’s not guided by the Spirit of God.

One thing is clear, however, the Holy Spirit of God will never lead a person to deny the cardinal truths of Scripture or pray to a strange god. He “convicts the world of guilt, in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement” (Jn. 16:8).

But a counterfeit spirit makes people smother truth, support sin and avoid calling evil by its name. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, he “guides into all truth” (Jn. 16:13), He doesn’t lead people to embrace false religions like Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism in dubious interfaithism.

The world cannot accept the Holy Spirit “because it neither sees Him nor knows Him” thus, He doesn’t make one seek worldly approval as Rome’s hierarchy constantly does (Jn. 14:17).

You can’t be a friend of God and be loyal to the debased system of the world at the same time. Like some other pseudo-Christian organizations, Roman Catholicism is very much of this world and is under the influence of its spirit. Those who truly want to serve the Lord would have to come out of it.

Are the Popes Infallible?

The key of control Rome wields over millions of Catholics lies in papal infallibility. This belief was officially declared at the Vatican I Council:

“The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when he discharges his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians, and, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals that is to be held by the universal church, through divine assistance promised him in St. Peter, exercises that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed to endow his church” (Denzinger, Enchiridium Symbolorum, 1963, 3074).

Papal infallibility means that the pope, by the reason of his office, cannot err when he speaks in matters of faith or morals. Thus, his words are irreformable and infallible.

The Vatican II council modified the absolutism of the papacy by giving authority to the bishops. Thus, Catholic bishops can also exercise infallibility through their “bond of communion” with the pope, and when they assemble in an ecumenical council.

From the claims of Vatican I above, it’s clear that papal infallibility is hinged on false assumptions. This is why it has generated more controversy among Catholic theologians and scholars than any other dogma cooked up by Rome. According to a Catholic work:

“From medieval times, there have been disagreements about the nature, the recipients, the exercise, and the applicability of the charism of infallibility; such controversy could be anticipated, insofar as the working of divine grace in the life of the church remains a mystery that surpasses human comprehension and expression” (The New Dictionary of Theology, ed. Joseph Komonchak, 2006, p. 518)

Rather than burying the controversy with a cliche like “mystery that surpasses human comprehension,” Catholics should face the facts. The heated debates generated by infallibility raise a point: those who opposed it have the ground of history, Scripture and tradition to stand on.

Even Popes like Vigilius (537-55), Clement IV (1265-8), Gregory XI (1370-8), Paul IV (1555-9), Adrian VI (1522-3) and Innocent III (1198-1216) rejected the dogma.

A Catholic scholar, Ignaz von Dollinger, commenting on Luke 22:32 wrote:

“It is directly against the sense of the passage … to find in it a promise of future infallibility to a succession of Popes … No single writer to the end of the seventh century dreamt of such an interpretation; all without exception – and there are eighteen of them – explain it simply as a prayer of Christ that his Apostle might not wholly succumb and lose his faith entirely in his approaching trial” (The Pope and the Council, 1869, 65-66).

Granted, no one who lets the Bible speak for itself would arrive at the idea that a human being is infallible because of a certain office.

For instance, if the words of Christ to Peter in Matthew 16:18 made him the first infallible pope, then this is a disaster, because the next word that came out of Peter’s mouth was a denial of a crucial part of the Gospel, declaring that Jesus will not go to the cross: “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (v. 22).

The Lord responded immediately, rebuking the Devil speaking through him: “Get behind me, Satan!” (v. 23). Here was Peter’s first ex cathedra declaration to the whole church on faith and morals, yet it was not an infallible speech, but a deadly heresy!

If Matthew 16:18 proves Peter to be a Pope, then Matthew 16:23 proves him to be an anti Christ (or Satan). It is a sword that cuts both ways. It’s interesting then, how volumes of books have been churned out by Catholic clergy and laity based on Matthew 16:18, yet there is curious silence about Matthew 16:23.

In Matthew 17, Peter made another erroneous statement. He equated Christ with Moses and Elijah: “If you wish I will put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (vs 4).

This time, God from heaven rebuked the ‘first pope’: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (VS. 5)

Later, Peter “began to curse and to swear, saying I know not the man [Christ]” (26:74). This was another ex cathedra declaration of the “new pope” to the whole church – right? Here is the point, there was no way Peter could have passed on to successors an infallibility which he himself didn’t possess! If Peter was the rock, he was far too unstable for the church to be built on him.

Considering the morally deplorable lives many of the popes led, the idea of infallibility becomes slippery. Modern Catholic apologists argue that evil popes didn’t have impeccability, but still had infallibility. How they manage to sustain this ridiculous dichotomy is amazing.

Heresy comes in two forms – doctrinal and moral. 1 Timothy 6:3 says: “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching.” This refers to doctrinal heresy.

A doctrinal heretic is one who denies or rejects sound Christian teachings. He could appear to be a moral person, but he is still a heretic.

Moral heresy is when a person lives contrary to sound Christian principles. “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” (Titus 1:16). A moral heretic may know or even teach sound Christian doctrines, but he denies them with his lifestyle. A moral heretic usually espouses doctrinal heresies to justify his sins.

It takes a level of blind loyalty and foolishness to believe that an immoral man who denies the faith daily with his evils becomes infallible when he speaks of faith and morals. Yet, the Catholic Encyclopedia on “Councils” says: “A sinful pope … remains a member of the (visible) church and is to be treated as a sinful, unjust ruler for whom we must pray, but from whom we may not withdraw our obedience.”

There you have it: cultic loyalty. Even when an evil pope sits in Rome, he must still be obeyed. If infallibility cannot keep the popes from evil or heresy, what purpose does it then serve other than tyranny?

Origins of the Dogma

Catholics claim that papal infallibility “was implicit in the early Church.” They even quote Cyprian. But I wonder if they agree with what he said here:

For no one of us sets himself up as a bishop of bishops, or, by tyrannical terror, forces his colleagues to a necessity of obeying, inasmuch as every bishop, in the free use of his liberty and power, has the right of forming his own judgement...” (On Baptism, Against the Donatists, 2:2)

Augustine is also quoted by Catholic apologists saying: “Rome has spoken; the case is concluded.”

This quote is out of context. Augustine wasn’t proposing a blind submission to Rome. Two synods had ruled on a disputed matter and the bishop of Rome had concurred, so Augustine agreed to put the matter to rest. Nowhere did he suggest that a judgement was conclusive simply because it came from Rome. Concerning Augustine, Patrologist, J. N. D Kelly wrote:

“At the same time there is no evidence that he was prepared to ascribe to the bishop of Rome, in his capacity as successor of St. Peter, a sovereign and infallible magisterium … Nor was he willing, in practical matters, to surrender one jot of the disciplinary independence of the African church which Cyprian had defended so stoutly in his day. The truth is that the doctrine of Roman primacy played only a minor role in his ecclesiology, as also in his personal religious thinking” (Early Christian Doctrines, MA: Prince Press, 2003, 419).

Papal infallibility didn’t slowly “develop,” rather it was swiftly made up in the late 1200s by Peter Olivi, a Franciscan priest who was accused of heresy.

At that time, Pope Nicholas (1277-80) had favoured the Franciscans by declaring that renunciation of property was a way to attain salvation. Olivi, obviously motivated by selfishness, proposed that such papal pronouncements were infallible. This was a radical belief at that time.

Pope John XXII (1315-34) who hated the Franciscans’ poverty vows attacked Olivi’s theory and produced a document Qui quorundum in 1324, denouncing the doctrine of papal infallibility as “the work of the Devil.” Brian Tierney explains:

“At the beginning of the fourteenth century … the nature of the church’s inerrancy was still ill-defined. The idea that the pope might be personally infallible was too novel, too contrary to all traditional teaching, to find any widespread acceptance” (Origin of Papal Infallibility 1150-1350, Leiden, Netherlands, 1972, p. 144).

Later on, when the popes fully became successors of the pagan emperors who claimed to be gods, infallibility began to find an appeal. But they needed to revise history; they needed a ‘backup’ for it. According to a scholar:

“This was the first occasion on which the Roman church had revisited its own history, in particular the third and fourth centuries, in search of precedents … Some of the periods in question, such as the pontification of Sylvester (314-355) and Liberius (352-366) were already being seen more through the prism of legend than that of history, and in the Middle Ages texts were often forged because the authors were convinced of the truth of what they contained” (Roger Collins, Keeper of the Keys, Basic Books, 2009, 80-81).

At last, infallibility was made an official dogma by Pope Pius IX at the Vatican Council I on December 8, 1869. It’s understandable why Pius IX toed this line. He needed the infallibility doctrine for his own ends. He was opposed to democracy and individual freedom.

The infallibility dogma was his desperate tool to maintain the dominion of Roman Catholicism over world governments and their citizens. He used his despotic office to intimidate the bishops present at the council to make this belief official.

Can Heretics be Infallible?

It is claimed that papal infallibility “prevents a pope from solemnly and formally teaching as truth something that is, in fact an error.” In Catholic theology, heresy is a mortal sin and its penalty is instant and automatic excommunication.

If Catholics are going to be consistent with their arguments, they will have to agree that once a pope commits the sin of heresy, he has denied the faith and is no more a member of the Church, let alone its head. So the idea that there is an “unbroken line” of apostolic succession back to Peter crumbles.

Many popes were rank heretics denounced by councils and contradicted by other popes.

Pope Stephan exhumed the corpse of a previous pope Formosus months after his burial, tried his cadaver and found him guilty of having crowned a wrong emperor. He declared all of his ordinations invalid.

Yet John IX, who succeeded Stephen VI condemned his decisions against Formosus, then another Pope Sergius III approved Stephen’s decree. Infallibility? Please cut the joke.

Pope Vigilius (537-55) changed his mind on doctrine several times till he was finally declared a heretic and excommunicated.

Pope Honorius (625-38) denied the nature of Christ and was condemned as a heretic by the 6th ecumenical council. You can’t be condemned by an “infallible council” and claim infallibility.

Adrian II (867-72) said civil marriages were valid, but Pius VII (1800-23) declared them invalid.

Pope Clement XIV issued a decree in 1773 to suppress the Jesuits, but pope Pius VII reversed this decree in 1814 restoring the Jesuits.

Pope Eugenius IV condemned Joan of Arc to be burned as a heretic and a witch, but Pope Benedict XV (1914-22) declared her a saint in 1920. How can two “infallible popes” contradict each other?

Pope John XXII, a mass murderer, shed so much blood that “would have incardinated the waters of Lake Constance [an extremely large lake], and the bodies of the slain would have bridged it from shore to shore” (De Rosa, The Darkside of the Papacy, Crown Publishers, 1988, p. 180).

This pope was also said to have been visited by “our Lady of Mount Carmel” who promised him that she would visit purgatory to release all those who wear her brown scapular. John XXII was finally denounced as a heretic by Emperor Louis of Bavaria who deposed him and appointed another pope in his place. Yet, today, millions of Catholics still lend credence to the authority of the visions of their heretic pope.

Modern popes are not far behind.

Pope John Paul II issued a letter in 2003 stating that Catholics are “obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions” and where such laws are made a “clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.”

But Pope Francis on March 5, 2014 backpedals on gay marriage saying, “We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”

Retired pope Benedict XVI once issued a letter that “homosexual acts … do not proceed from a genuine affection and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstance can they be approved.”

But Pope Francis in his Synod on the Family (2014) stated that gays and lesbians have “gifts and qualities to offer the Christian communities.” He even welcomed a transgender and a gay activist to the Vatican.

When pope Francis endorsed non-Christian religions as gifts from God, Louie Verrecchio a Catholic, wrote:

Now that is hubris. Imagine, a pope daring to profess to the world that false religions, those that honor false gods and cannot save, the same that supplant the worship due as the first demand of justice to Our Lord, is a gift. A gift! This is terrible, terrible offense against God and a gross distortion of the faith of the Church. It also endangers the souls of many. How can a faithful Catholic not combat such poisonous prose as this? Is one constrained simply because it comes from a pope? Certainly not”

All through the centuries, popes have taught grievous errors and committed perversities, which gives the infallibility belief away as a big fraud. Only God is infallible. To accord this attribute to anyone else is blasphemy.

Detecting False Prophets

The term “prophet” needs to be first defined. From the words used to designate a prophet, both in the Old and New Testaments, we can say “that a prophet is one who sees things, that is, who receives revelations, who is in the service of God, particularly as a messenger, and who speaks in His name.” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 1949, 358)

Therefore, a false prophet is one who distorts or denies the truth and claims to speak in God’s name. A Bible Dictionary defines false prophets as “those who falsely claim to utter revelations that come from God, to foretell events, or to have God’s power to produce, miracles, signs, and wonders.” In the Bible, false prophets fall into 3 main categories:

1. Those who worship false gods
2. Those who falsely claimed to receive messages from the Lord
3. Those who wandered from the truth and ceased to be true prophets.

The New Testament is filled with warnings about false prophets and false teachers. Jesus warned: “Beware of false prophets” (Matt. 7:15)

“Many false prophets shall rise up…and shall shew great signs and wonders: insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the elect.” (Matt.24:11)

Peter warned: “there shall be false teachers among you, who privly shall bring in damnable heresies…” (2Pet. 2:1)

John warned: “…do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone into the world.” (1Jn. 4:1)

That 1st John 4:1 shows us that false prophets are being led by evil spirits and all evil spirits are ruled by Satan, the “father of lies” and accuser of God’s people (Jn. 8:44). There is a chain of distribution:

Satan –> Demons –> False Prophets

Satan the father of lies inspires lies that deny the truths of God’s Word and these lies are taught as “doctrines of devils” (1Tim. 4:1) to his messengers, the false prophets. They act as vehicles by which such false doctrines are disseminated to people, whether through the printed page or the media.

This is why Believers should be able to detect them because many false teachers are highly influential and appear outwardly innocent. Most times, people allow sentiments, fear and ignorance to becloud their thinking such that they shy away from testing anyone who claims to be a prophet. Some Christians focus on the gifts at the expense of the fruits, not realizing that spiritual gifts can be counterfeited.

Having read the biographies of those who turned out to be false teachers or prophets in church history (Mary Eddy, Charles Russell, Joseph Smith, David Koresh, Ellen White, etc.), I observed two common things that led them into deception: self conceit and self deceit.

Self conceit or self exaltation is a big trap that Satan uses to lure mankind into deception. He always appeal to human pride. This was the weapon he used on Eve. He appealed to her ego and selfish desire to want to “be like God.”

This is why all false prophets love big titles. David Koresh claimed to be “Jesus,” Sun Myung Moon claimed to be “Lord of the Universe,” the pope of Rome claims to be the “Vicar of Christ” Joseph Smith claimed to be “the prophet sent with the everlasting gospel.” There is always a desire to exalt themselves to the level of God or Christ.

Another way self-conceit manifests is when a person claims to have “the only truth” or a better interpretation of old, established truths. This leads to the idea that without them, you can’t receive from God. Let me say it that anyone who claims to be the only true Bible teacher or the only one who holds the key to your breakthroughs or to the gates of Heaven, is a false messenger.

Self deceit is linked to self conceit because pride and arrogance are sins that open the door to spiritual deception. The moment a false teacher falls into the illusion that he or she alone is God’s prophet and has a corner on His truth, spiritual deception is inevitable. Most deceivers are self-deceived. A person who believes he is right and others are wrong usually becomes invulnerable to Biblical correction.

This reminds me of William Branham (1909-1965), the famous American prophet. Many miracles and healings took place at his crusades and he would give spiritual insights. After some time, he claimed to be the “Elijah” of the church age. He began to teach heresies, denying the Trinity, the eternality of Hell and the Deity of Christ and denounced all other churches. He waved off all godly corrections because of his “revelations” and never recanted his heresies.

Marks of False Prophets

1. They give prophesies that never come to pass (Deut. 18:20).

In 1856, Ellen G. White, the “prophetess” of the Seventh Day Adventists said: “I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel: Some food for worms, some subject to the last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus” (Testimonies vol 1, p 131).

This prediction never occurred. Everyone present at that meeting is now dead.

Famous American prophet, Benny Hinn, said in 1989: “The Spirit tells me – Fidel Castro will die – in the 90’s…The Lord tells me to tell you in the mid 90’s, about ’94 – ’95, no later than that, God will destroy the homosexual community of America … He will destroy it with fire.”

None of these ever happened.

2. They bear bad fruits (Matt. 7:18-20).

True prophets who are serving Christ are marked by “the fruit of the spirit”- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

The opposite of such fruit is seen in false prophets. They use people rather than love them. Watch their relationships, is it marked by a critical attitude, conflict, rudeness, selfishness, failure to keep promises, failure to control their mouths or sexual desires? Do they exploit people financially? Do they keep their members by love, example and teaching or make them afraid to leave their group? Are their claims factual or inconsistent?

Like the Florida-based prophet I mentioned earlier who can’t seem to get even his conversion story straight. He once said “I got saved in Israel in 1968.” Then during a sermon some years later he said “It was in Canada that I got born again right after 1968.” Then in his book about the Holy Spirit, he says again that he was converted in 1972 during his senior high school. But the records shows that he dropped out before his senior year. When was he saved and why the discrepancies?

3. They contradict God’s Word (Isa. 8:20).

They subvert the Bible with their own “new revelations.” They will say you shouldn’t take the Bible too seriously, or they gradually introduce a “formula” or “ritual” that people use taking their eyes off God and His Word.

4. They deny or distort the Person of Christ or His finished work on the cross (2Pet. 2:1).

Any teaching that distorts or contradicts the cardinal doctrines of the Christian Faith – the Virgin Birth, Deity, perfect sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus or the inspiration and supreme authority of the Bible – must be rejected.

“Prophet” Rick Joyner who is described on his website as one having “an ability to foresee certain future events accurately” glibly denied the humanity of Christ in one of his books:

There is a tendency to continue to relate to Him as ‘the MAN from Galilee.’ Jesus is not a man. He was and is a Spirit. He took the form of a servant and became a man for a brief time” (There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 59).

This is a heresy called Docetism. The humanity of Christ is as emphasized as His divinity in Scripture. The Watchtower Society which claims to be God’s prophet denies Christ’s deity, denied He died on a cross and His bodily resurrection.

I repeat, any prophet or teacher, no matter how “anointed” or popular, that teaches a doctrines that deny or perverts these key doctrines is teaching damnable heresies. Avoid them like a plague.

5. They lead people astray with signs and wonders (Deut. 13:1-4).

They use miracles (or exaggerated stories of miracles) to attract crowds. Such feats keep their followers at bay because to question the “prophet” or leave his fold can invite calamities. Like Jannes and Jambres who contended with Moses, many of them use occult powers to produce lying signs and wonders (2Tim. 3:8).

A Nigerian “prophet” T. B. Joshua once said: “Miracles are just a means to an end…everyone who received a miracle received it for the salvation of his or her soul.” This is false. Miracles do not save, it’s the gospel that saves. The children of Israel witnessed many miracles, yet they perished in the wilderness.

6. They are famous and loved by the world (Luke 6:26).

False prophets like to play it for the crowd and win their approval. Any little good they do for others -including miracles- must be televised and broadcast. They are also very selective on what they preach about.

In response to a question on whether God forgives atheists, Pope Francis said “The question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience.” He told another atheist “just do good, we will find a meeting point” (Newsmax, Sept. 12, 2013).

Little wonder this pope has become one of the world’s most loved men. He prayed in a mosque; washed the feet of prisoners; made sandwiches for Swiss guards; invited 200 homeless people to the Vatican garden – but then says you don’t need to believe Jesus to get to Heaven. He’s a false teacher.

False prophets are usually found in close association with powerful world leaders or people who think they can buy God with money. A reference work stated:

“A recurring characteristic of the false prophets is that they are often found in the employment of the powerful and that they are careful to speak pleasing, positive, and flattering words to their employers. Jeremiah condemned the false prophets who were always saying ‘Peace, peace!’ when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14)” (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1995, 440).

For 3 years, apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders of false teachers that would come from within them (Acts 20:29-31). And what was his remedy? He said: “I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace” (vs. 32). That is our anchor.

Stand firm in the Scriptures and test the spirits. Don’t neglect the Word and chase after miracles, emotional experiences or “new” revelations and gifts in place of the Giver.