Avoiding The Web Of Deception
Duane Vander Klok
I don’t particularly like spiders; but have you ever watched one getting ready to eat? Using just the right number of sticky threads, he carefully prepares his web and positions himself to wait for an unsuspecting victim. When one comes along and is caught, the spider feels its vibrations and immediately runs to devour his meal.
Like a spider seeking his prey, the enemy of your soul is hoping to have you for a snack. The Bible says you should “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). One of the ways Satan devours Christians is through false ministries. He strategically sets up his web of deception and waits for you; but he can only devour you if you let him.
As God pours out His Holy Spirit in these last days, you can expect to see more and more legitimate signs and wonders. But, whenever God begins to move, the devil always tries to distract people with a counterfeit move. Jesus said, “For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and they shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive even the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). This prophecy has been in the fulfillment stage for about 2000 years but never more so than at the present time. Satan knows his time is short, and he is doing all he can to deceive God’s people. Therefore, you need to be spiritually sharp so you can avoid the devil’s web of deception.
Seeing is not Believing
Many people unwittingly get caught in the devil’s web of deception because of their eagerness for supernatural experiences. Even some Christians think that just because an occurrence is supernatural, it must be from God. They couldn’t be more wrong! The Apostle John wrote, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, to see if they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” We’re told not to blindly believe every spirit, prophet or prophecy, but to test the spirits and judge the prophecy. In other words, don’t just look for supernatural experiences. Instead, look for those things you are certain come from God.
When the Holy Spirit was being poured out in the book of Acts, something very tangible occurred. In fact, the devout Jews criticized what was taking place and tried to explain it away as drunkenness. Peter gave us some good criteria for judging supernatural manifestations when he said, “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:15-18). Notice he said, “This is that.” If you cannot look at an experience and find it in scripture, you don’t want it as part of your theology!
Recognizing False Ministries
False ministers point to themselves and not to Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:28-30). False ministers draw disciples to themselves, claiming to have spiritual insight local pastors and church leaders do not have. They have a “special” revelation from God. True ministers are messengers who always point to Jesus, not themselves.
False ministers are usually critical of local church leadership. Jude referred to ungodly men who deny the Lord as “grumblers and faultfinders who follow their own evil desires.” They were recognized as those who boasted about themselves and flattered others for their own advantage. That is what deceivers do — they attack and criticize the leadership of your local church while exalting themselves
False prophets usually bring a negative message, especially for those who resist their “ministry.” Their theme is doom, gloom, and destruction. The first time I went to Russia, someone prophesied I was going to die in a plane crash. I prayed about it and didn’t feel the prophecy was right. So, I went as planned and, in just one meeting, over a thousand people were saved. Five hundred churches were planted as a result of that trip. If I were the devil, I would have tried to stop it, too!
The Bible says we are to be led by the Spirit of God, not by prophetic words. If I had I allowed myself to be directed by prophecy alone, I’d never have gone to Russia. Just remember, prophecy should be used to confirm what God is already speaking to you.
False ministers will let you know they are “special” messengers from God. They want to make you believe God speaks to them in a way He does not speak to you. Many people have regrettably poured their hearts, their finances, and their lives into the hands of false ministers just because they were told, “God sent me to you.” Remember, a person is not necessarily on a divine mission from God just because they say so.
One of the easiest ways to spot a false ministry is by discerning the spirit of the minister. A true representative of God is teachable and humble. False ministers are rebellious and un-teachable. They feel no one but God has the right to tell them what to do. Be careful not to get involved with such a minister. If they have a know-it-all attitude, they have already opened the door to the devil’s deception. You don’t want to walk through the door with them!
False ministers display “gifts,” but their fruit is bad. Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Mat 7:15-17). He did not say you would know the good from the bad by signs, miracles, or gifts, but by their fruit. Learn to look beyond the supernatural display to examine the fruit of the ministry.
Finally, false ministers are often “drifters” who have no real roots. If you could do a background check on them, you would probably find that false ministers have gone from church to church, leaving a long trail of confusion, division, deception, and destruction. The Bible says we are to know those who labor among us. In other words, don’t blindly receive the ministry of someone who is not known or recognized by your local leadership.
Knowing the Truth
The most important thing you can do to discern a false ministry is to know what a true ministry looks like. The better you know someone, the less likely you are to be fooled by someone disguised as that person. The better you know the Lord, the less likely you are to be fooled by someone falsely representing him.
I challenge you to stay full of the Holy Spirit and to stay in the Word of God. Hold your local church leadership in high regard, recognizing that they may see things you do not see. Finally, take a bold stand against false ministries and help those who are deceived.
Signs of False Ministries
1. They point to themselves, not to Jesus.
2. They are critical of local church leadership.
3. They bring a negative message.
4. They say they are “special” messengers sent from God.
5. They’re usually rebellious and un-teachable.
6. They display “gifts” but have bad fruit.
7. They’re “drifters” who have no verifiable roots.