By Rick Becker 7 March 2019
We’re closer to the end. Some would have us believe the greatest revival the world has ever seen is upon us, but scripture teaches the opposite. There will be false anointed ones, a departure from the faith, apostasy, and doctrines of demons will deceive many within the visible church. Those within the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) ignore what scripture teaches, they are hoping to be activated by a super apostle and be a part of a new breed of revivalist that will walk through walls, raise the dead, and conquer the seven spheres of society. These deluded folk have not been activated, but captivated by false teachers and false doctrines: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8
Under the guise of fresh revelation, anointings, impartations, new ways to hear God and walk in the supernatural, false teachers of the NAR come to steal, kill, and destroy. But it’s not just the NAR that is leading people into deception, there are other movements and denominations in the visible church that are responsible for seducing people into error. The health and wealth gospel, word of faith heresy, false philosophies, traditions, new age doctrines, and mysticism have captivated millions in the visible church. In this post I offer ten signs that will help identify those who have been captivated by false teachers and false doctrines.
1. The captivated have compromised truth through pragmatism.
Pragmatism evaluates success based on results. If for example a pastor wants to grow his small congregation, the fashionable route for him to take would be a “church growth” seminar or Willowcreek conference. This will give him the methodologies necessary to increase numbers. He will discover that it’s not too difficult to grow a church in this generation. Successful business models are utilized in the church because apparently pagan entrepreneurs know better than Jesus or the authors of scripture.
All the pastor has to do is water down the gospel, focus on topical and motivational messages, create expectation, and exchange biblical terms like sin, judgement and suffering for legacy, shift, presence, and prophetic etc. Dim the lights, and let the contemporary sounds of Bethel or Hillsong bypass the minds while bringing goosebumps to the enthralled congregation and voila! – “church growth.” This probably without one single convert, and certainly without any of the previous members who may be saved, growing in their faith. God has not given the “increase,” a pragmatic approach has, compromise has.
Experience and results should never define our theological persuasions. When we exchange truth with “what works” we have exchanged truth for a lie. Pragmatism causes truth to be relative, and when truth becomes relative, by definition it is no longer truth. When it’s no longer truth – it’s toxic. The fruits of pragmatism in the church are mega churches full of false converts and biblically illiterate believers carried about by every wind of doctrine.
2. The captivated serve a personality.
“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:29-30.
I have had many conversations with people who have been deceived by a false teacher. They usually avoid an invitation to compare the teachings of their idol (because that’s really what the false teacher has become) to scripture. Instead, they resort to their first line of defense – “but do you know pastor X, have you met him/her ?”
Their faith is in a personality instead of the principles of God’s word. These false teachers have crafted an impressive persona. Like the super apostles Paul described in Corinthians, contemporary false teachers disguise themselves as “servants of righteousness.” They come across as individuals who know God intimately, and make sure everyone else is aware of their unique gifts and special relationship with God. Instead of hearing sermons that exegete the word of God, followers are subjected to countless stories and experiences – the pastor of course being the central figure.
In short, they commend themselves – the direct opposite of Paul taught: “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Corinthians 10:12. The captivated will drive thousands of miles to a stadium event (performance) to receive an “impartation” from their favourite personality, but that’s not all that drives them that far….
3. The captivated fall for false promises.
“These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” 2 Peter 2:17-19
The captivated are desperate to alleviate the cares of this world, or increase their comforts in this world. Promises of breakthrough, healing, favour, pleasant “suddenlies,” transfers of wealth, supernatural encounters and miracles, entice those with itching ears or troubled souls. Like clouds without water false teachers fail to deliver. They promise their followers an encounter with God, but instead deliver an emotional experience or Kundalini spirit. They peddle their courses on how to hear the voice of God, but all you will hear is your own imagination or a deceiving spirit. The captivated believe they can decree things into existence, access heavenly portals, shift atmospheres, and perform greater miracles than Christ. They believe a Sozo course will bring inner healing, and that “pleading the blood of Jesus” will bring healing, protection, and deliverance. Year in and year out, like a hamster on a wheel, the captivated chase empty promises. After months, or even years, the island of shipwrecked souls claims another citizen. Disappointed in “God” the “church,” and “Christians,” these shipwrecked souls placed their hope in false promises.
4. The captivated are easily persuaded
Paul was an apostle with a miraculous conversion, and by the time he reached Berea had chased out an evil spirit from a slave girl, and experienced a real suddenly – unlike the fake suddenlies of the NAR: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” Acts 16:25-26
Paul had some great stories to tell, but he did not rely on stories to convince his listeners, he explained the scriptures: “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” Acts 17: 1-3
After preaching in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas travelled to Berea and continued preaching in the synagogue. The Berean’s saw it fit to test the doctrine of the great apostle: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11. This is what every believer should do, compare a teaching to the word of God regardless of who the teacher is. The Bereans were able to do this, because Paul reasoned “from the scriptures.” In other words they were able to go directly to the source. The only infallible source – scripture, is sadly the last place those who are easily persuaded by false teachers visit. They are persuaded by eloquence, stories, signs, and appearances As a result the captives of these false doctrines grow in false knowledge and experiences without gaining any knowledge of Christ or truth. The false prophets and apostles in the New Apostolic Reformation have perfected the art of the deceivers Paul described in Colossians 2:18: “..going on in detail about visions..” (ESV)… “intruding into those things which he hath not seen..” (KJV.) The gobbledygook of NAR mystics, stories of healings and encounters with God by hipster evangelists, and words of knowledge from google assisted prophets are sufficient to dupe the easily persuaded.
5. The captivated chase after supernatural phenomena
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:23-24
Schools of “supernatural ministry” are flourishing around the globe. Like Simon the sorcerer, thousands of youngsters are offering money to receive power and supernatural gifts. So called “glory clouds” have mesmerized people, fooling them into believing that smoke and glitter are the manifest presence of God. Feathers, gold dust, gold fillings, oily palms, spasms as well as demonic manifestations are viewed as signs of “God touching someone.” Anyone who dares question the bizarre manifestations will be accused of having a “religious spirit.”
Superstars in the New Apostolic Reformation have built careers based on their “miracles.” Their exploits are caught on film as they roam public spaces looking for those suffering from what seems to be the greatest ailment on earth – one leg shorter than the other. A warning for those trusting in signs and wonders: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7: 21-23.
God’s word is clear regarding the danger of signs and wonders in the last days: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false.” 2 Thessalonians 2: 9-11
Captivated leaders teach that signs and wonders must always accompany any evangelistic endeavour. They have this in common with the rich man in Hades (Luke 16) – both believe something miraculous will convince the lost. The rich man reasoned with Abraham “but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent” Abraham’s answer – “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Those who teach that the gospel is not good news unless there is a demonstration of power are blinded to the fact that the power is not in signs and wonders, it’s in the gospel: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Rom1:16.
The gospel is sufficient and scripture is more sure than any modern day sign or wonder.
6. The captivated are victims of peddlers.
“For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:17
“And in their greed they will exploit you with false words” 2 Peter 2:3
While tithing is NOT taught in the new testament (giving cheerfully, not under compulsion, and according to our ability IS taught) it’s become a tool in the hands of unscrupulous teachers, some of whom threaten that if you don’t give your tenth, the rest of your money will be cursed, and you give a foothold to demons. Teaching tithing has become a “get rich quick” scheme, and a great way for false teachers to accumulate wealth and maintain their empires (mega churches) It does not stop at tithing, there’s usually some sort of building fund, missionary fund, social justice cause, and other causes that members are asked to give towards. Another means of raking in the dollars are workshops, conferences, online courses and books. You are going to pay to learn how to: hear God’s voice, shift atmospheres, receive healing, walk in intimacy with God, experience supernatural powers. The captivated spend an awful amount of money in order to gain some sort of advantage or deeper knowledge, they are in a constant state of always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. The captivated and their money are easily parted as they pay for their never ending quest to hear and experience God.
7. The captivated who begin to ask questions are penalized.
You are never going to be in that inner circle, or part of the clique in “church” unless you prove yourself worthy. Under the guise of a “culture of honour” leaders are able to excuse their failures, avoid critique, promote their false doctrines, and maintain a firm grip on their ignorant followers. Once you invest time, and more importantly money, you will climb the food chain relatively fast. Display blind loyalty to the leader, salivate over their unfounded stories and visions, accept their teachings without question, and you will be rewarded. But if you dare to step out of line, you will discover that the “culture of honour” is an excuse to employ a “culture of shame” upon truth seekers. You may even think you are going mad or imagining things, and at first you will lay all the blame on yourself. This just shows how effective the brainwashing and manipulation has been. It’s a common story – those who are in the final stages of exiting a church that teaches false doctrines will tell you how they suddenly lost favour in the eyes of their leaders when they asked legitimate questions. They are asked to step down from positions, they are shamed, ostracized, patronized, and rumours are spread about them. This serves as a warning to potential mutineers by creating a fearful atmosphere.
8. The captivated become pharisaical.
Point 7 demonstrated this fact. Approach a false teacher or one of their followers in sincerity and humility with a scriptural rebuttal concerning their teachings or revelations, and you will probably experience a venomous response. Their first cry will be “don’t judge.” This verse is used out of context when defending false teachers. “Don’t judge” really means don’t judge hypocritically: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5. The same chapter instructs us to beware of false prophets and examine their fruits (7:15-20) “Judge not” does not mean: never discern, never test all things, or ignore those who bring a different teaching! Those who use this verse to silence critics of false teachers or false teachings, are in fact judging someone for correct judgement. In other words, they are self-righteous and hypocrites – pharisaical. They will preach love and tolerance, but are unloving towards those who are trying to warn them that their souls are in grave danger. They will tolerate false teachers, doctrines of demons and demonic manifestations, but will turn their backs on family or lifelong friends who attempt to reason with them from the scriptures.
Another example of hypocrisy can be found in the area of healing. Bespectacled pastors will tell you the atonement guarantees healing, and that if you are not healed it can only be your fault. Their own healing rooms, Sozo courses and supernatural students cannot heal them. They go for surgery and rely on medication like the rest of us (that’s not to say God does not heal – he does, according to his will.) These teachers who cannot heal themselves or each other, charge for courses on healing. The fake healers who stretch legs in shopping malls will never be found filming a miracle in the ICU wards of hospitals.
9. The captivated believe they can change this world into a paradise.
“As above so below” has become the mantra of New Apostolic Reformation proponents.
This occultic phrase is used in The Message bible (a perversion of scripture)
“Set the world right; Do what’s best – as above, so below.” – The Message
The correct translation: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10.
So what does the phrase “Your kingdom come” really mean? False teachers would reason as follows – there is no poverty or disease in heaven, and therefore there should be no poverty and disease on earth. There is peace in heaven, so there should be peace on earth etc. False teachers will tell you the world is getting better all the time, and Christ is coming back once believers have reclaimed the seven spheres of society. The bible teaches the direct opposite ( 2 Timothy 3:1-9)
Jesus made it clear that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) it is not external or secular and it will certainly not transform this planet into paradise. When we pray “thy kingdom come” we are asking God to transform us, not the world, we are asking God to conquer the souls of men and women, not the seven spheres of society, and we are anticipating the coming kingdom when Christ will rule and reign on earth after he has brought judgement on the earth (2 Peter 3:7)
Until then, believers will go through many trials and tribulations, they will be mocked, not celebrated, persecuted not praised, and while God still heals some according to his will, many believers will have to endure sickness and disabilities. The captivated want to be settlers in this world, they are not sojourners looking forward to the day when Christ will come and rule, they want to be little gods and take dominion for themselves. They translate the word “kingdom” as dominion and comfort in this present age. They attempt to “set the world right” because their focus is on the temporal instead of the eternal.
10. The captivated have been placated.
“For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things,
prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 30:9-11
Not much has changed since the days of Isaiah, there’s a reason people follow contemporary false prophets – they want to hear “smooth things.” This is why the captivated are so intent on defending their favourite false teacher. They are not just defending a personality, they are defending the message that has tickled their ears. They have bought into various lies – God guarantees wealth and health, they can walk in any supernatural gift they choose etc. They have not been taught the crucified life. They want dominion, power, favour and success. They have been placated by smooth operators, from the blatant health and wealth charlatans to the spiritual mystics who have exchanged sound teachings for nonsensical sayings and encounters with a divine agent.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4