* * *
8. Beware the ego-centric ('pseudo-Messiah') leader
The deceiver will rarely fulfil all of the criteria below, but the majority will apply despite his attempts to hide them by outwardly conforming to the "Scriptural" pattern he attempts to counterfeit. Because it is impossible for the "father of all lies" to fully counterfeit righteousness his darkness will often be exposed, but is often foolishly "forgiven" and tolerated by Christians who fail to accurately apply Scriptural tests:
(Ref. Matthew 7v15-23; 24v23-26; John 8v44; 2 Corinthians. 11v1-4 and 12-15; 2 Peter 2:14; 2 Peter 3:16 etc.)
egocentric instead of Christo-centric; John 13v34; 15v12 and 17; 1 Timothy 1v6-10; Titus 1v10-11; Galatians 5v22-24; James 4v6-7; Proverbs 16v18 and 18v12
promotes himself; you see and hear him - Christ is secondary;
the bigger or more important the audience the bigger the "show" he puts on;
delusion of grandeur;
megalomaniac; (Jude 12)
he must be first, best, and greatest; there is no place for the small and insignificant; James 2v1-7; Ephesians 6v9; Luke 7v7-14; 1 John 4v20; 1 Samuel 2v7-8
if you oppose him you are put down or manipulated into submission - often by public humiliation disguised as "jokes"; James 4v11-12; Galatians 5v15; Proverbs 13v3; 21v23
he uses authority as a weapon to control & reject others in the body - as opposed to the Scriptural description of the body of Christ: Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4
delusions of persecution;
when plans, which are often grandiose, fail HE is never at fault or personally responsible;
someone else is blamed;
someone is always against him and opposing him;
always has stories about people who have tried to hurt him or (or a pastor friend of his) move him (them) to a place he (they) didn't want to be while ignoring all the damage he (they) inflicted on others!
Has a god-complex (he is his own authority);
claims that he hears the voice of God;
places himself beyond reason and Scripture; adds or subtracts from the Word of God as necessary
hides behind the claim that "God told me";
the voice he claims to hear is often contradictory and un-Scriptural; (2 Peter 3v16; James 1:8)
Surrounds himself with people he has determined to be inferior and who he can manipulate so they become his "Yes" men;
they are his security;
they lose their identity in his fame;
they become submissive defendants of his decisions;
Always projects and supports a credible cause;
but his personal motives are usually carefully concealed and completely diverse;
wolf in sheep's clothing; (Acts 20v28-30)
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (puts on front in public which he cannot keep up in private because it is not the Holy Spirit controlling him!);
preys upon the wealthy naïve, physically sick, emotionally starved, low socio-economic;
shows special interest in the elderly rich - especially women; (2 Timothy 3:6)
Engages in the sensational by claiming in God's name to perform signs and wonders and miracles (Matthew. 7v15-23; 2 Thessalonians. 2v9);
in doing so he will clutch at events that support his views such as end-times catastrophes (earthquakes, wars, famines, global earth-warming, destruction of ozone-layer - which are spurious or have been thoroughly debunked by careful scientific & Christian research)
thus he teaches God's people to fear the world instead of fearing God - a Scriptural teaching he cannot preach ( Psalms 34v11; 19v9; Malachi 2v16; 2 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 5:21; Ephesians 6:5; Philippians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Hebrews 2:15; 1 Peter 1:17; 2:17; 3:6; Hebrews. 12v28-29; 1 John 4:18; Revelation 2:10) and this gives his ministry a worldly and casual flavour which carnal Christians find attractive (so he may quickly build up a church of people who like their 'ears tickled').
great schemes for fund-raising - which is usually tax-free;
these schemes are beyond the scrutiny of the church or any other authority other than himself;
loves money; (Luke 3:14;16:14; John 12:6; 1 Timothy 3:3; 6:10,17; 2 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:5)
discredits the worldwide church and minimizes its influence;
constantly points out its weaknesses and the damage it has done to him or his acquaintances;
its loss of prestige and spiritual power; and
elevates his own power by comparison;
Subject to quick and drastic changes in his course of action without regard to principle, the teachings of Scripture, or responsibility to those who support his cause; (James 1v8)
answerable only to his own super-ego which he carefully projects in public as the voice of God.
As Christians we must seek the Lord and rely on His saving grace to protect us from pride which so quickly leads the way to deception, as the prophet Obadiah warned Edom (Obadiah 1-4):
1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom, 'We have heard a report from the LORD, And an envoy has been sent among the nations saying, "Arise and let us go against her for battle" 2 "Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You are greatly despised. 3 "The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to earth?' 4 "Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down," declares the LORD.
Paul's warning against false teachers who are 'imagining that godliness is a means of gain' (1 Timothy 6:5), and who are 'teaching for base gain what they have no right to teach' (Titus 1: 11) is never more apt than today when Benny Hinn, the Copelands and other money-preachers and their minor minions seek to follow the love of Mammon rather than the love of God. Peter is even more explicit when he says, 'They have their hearts trained in greed' and 'in their greed they will exploit you with fake words' (2 Peter 2:3, 14); and Jude tells us that they 'abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error … flattering people to gain advantage (Jude 11, 16). The apostles discerned the same problem in their day for "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
God blessed Abraham with 'flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys' (Genesis 24:35) and we need not imagine that God has stopped blessing some with wealth or that He wants everyone to be poor! But His desire to bless encompasses every area of our lives, and His primary concern is always for our spiritual welfare. Financial prosperity must not be allowed to conflict with our spiritual health (it is possible to gain power, money, and possessions through worldly means, yet convince ourselves that God wanted us to have it all) - even the 'unrighteous steward' (Luke 16) knew how to 'use' 'unrighteous mammon', but Jesus warns us that 'money' would fail - the important matter in life is to be received into the 'eternal home' at death. If 'mammon' is not blessing us in this way we are better off without it.
Some years ago an elderly Christian contacted us regarding the spiritual heath of his wife who had apparently been seduced into the Jehovah's Witnesses by her daughter. It turned out that he was on his third marriage and the daughter was his 'new' wife's natural daughter. He wanted me to point out the errors of the Jehovah's Witnesses and bring his wife back into the faith that he claimed they shared together. Apparently they had become Christians together some years ago and had even started a Christian magazine. He regaled me with accounts of the struggles they had from month to month in keeping the magazine going, and how God had miraculously intervened many times over their financial needs as they had to face deadlines for printing with no money coming in until the last minute. But all that had now failed and he had returned to his old job in Cardiff. I eventually drove with him to meet with his wife at her house (they were separated) where she had arranged for two Jehovah's Witnesses to give their point of view. As I prepared to discuss the difference between the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ while incorporating the 'prophetic record' of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, as they had requested, it quickly became clear that the arrogance of the Witnesses was exceeded by the man who was so full of his Christian witness through his, now failed, magazine.
The Witnesses attempted their usual re-interpretation of the 'tests for a false prophet' (see Section 4) and made it clear that they saw no need to meet again after that evening. Despite the fact that they had failed to reply to my rebuttal of their doctrinal position they also refused to allow examination of photo-reprints from their 'Awake!' and 'Watchtower' magazines which I had brought with me. This was no surprise as I know they are trained to keep their eyes from 'apostate' literature (their own material in this case!) and treat it as 'pornography'! However, a greater problem quickly emerged. The husband was a bully who attempted to butt into the discussion at every opportunity. When he first 'phoned me I invited him to one of the meetings which we regularly hold in Cardiff to pray for evangelization worldwide and the Christian witness to those trapped in deception. We prayed for about 40 minutes that night and he informed us that we prayed too much! Brian obviously had his own ideas of how things should be done and it quickly became clear that he wasn't one to readily listen to another opinion.
Although his wife agreed to meet with me again on another occasion, I held out little hope for further progress because of her equally angry and self-righteous reaction which matched her husband's aggressive stance. I wanted to meet her with the Witnesses again in the absence of Brian but he insisted on coming and, once he and his wife were alone with me, it became apparent that their problems were deep-seated and serious Biblical counseling was needed. Sadly, between Brian's ranting, which was matched by his wife's retaliation, a more serious problem arose. Neither held an absolute view on Scripture and it quickly became clear that she had been thoroughly indoctrinated by her daughter, although she claimed that she was not a Jehovah's Witness. Every question on the nature of the human soul, for example, was met by a copybook answer from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society 'Reasoning' book. All of the Scriptures they use to present 'soul sleep' (the un-biblical 'annihilationist' view that when we die the soul goes into non-existence until Jehovah re-creates us from His memory for eternal life or eternal annihilation) were trotted out by her. When I questioned the origin of the arguments she presented she insisted that she had found them herself in the Bible. When the two Witnesses had been with her at the first meeting they had also brought out one of their favorite chestnuts, which insists that they know (usually personally) someone who has read the Bible alone and then, when the Jehovah's Witnesses came to their door for the first time, amazingly, they find that they believed exactly the same thing! So this proves that their doctrines must be found in the Bible and not from their books as I insisted! They had no answer when I told them that Charles Taze Russell held a different opinion and had insisted that anyone who believed in the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society view and had known it through reading his volumes of 'Studies In The Scriptures,' for even 10 years, could then go back to reading the Bible on its own and, incredibly, would fall 'back' into darkness and believe the doctrines of Christendom (i.e. the orthodox Christian view) within 2 years! It is amazing that reading the Bible on its own will lead you into the orthodox truth and this fact speaks volumes about the origin of the Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs.
On closer probing Brian's wife exploded: 'Why can't I have my own view of what the Bible means!' I pointed out three reasons:
Because the Bible specifically tells us through the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.' (John 16:13). If the Holy Spirit will not speak on His own initiative but only gives what He hears from the Father and Son, who are we to seek our own truth? We cannot all have different truths - that would be foolishness;
Scripture specifically warns us about following our own interpretation: 'But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation' (2 Peter 1:20);
'But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons' (1 Timothy 4:1).
Scripture details the exact route that cults like the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society have followed.
She finally brought out her real 'bone of contention' - they had been in the Assemblies of God church and the pastor was caught in a long-standing sin. He had been in an adulterous relationship with the church secretary for 23 years and they even had a secret 'love child' together. Although she had prayed in 'tongues' with other members of the church and even 'prophesied,' she now doubted that there had been any substance in all of this for she couldn't trust a faith that had been 'led' by a lying adulterer of a pastor! When we place a leader on a pedestal instead of keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ we will suffer immense spiritual collapse if they fail through human weakness, as we all do at some time. The Lord Jesus Christ is an unfailing Rock, Fortress and Deliverer:
2 Sam 22:2 And he said, "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
Psalms 18:2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
When Christ claimed equality with the Father He made it clear that to be secure in His hands is to be in the Fathers hands because they are One (John 10:27-33):
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. 29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 "I and the Father are one." 31 The Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" 33 The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."
This is the difference between putting your faith in men or the false 'created' Christ of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society who could fail in the same manner that Satan fell because He is not the infallible God that Jesus claimed and proved Himself to be but, according to their doctrine, a 'created being.' Obviously the created angel Satan fell so it is theoretically possible for 'a created Jesus' to fall - and thus the Jehovah's Witness has no eternal security - despite his protestations! It is surely obvious that anyone relying on any 'good works' to get them into heaven can never be absolutely certain of a heavenly reward. Yet that is no less than the Lord Jesus Christ promised every disciple - and the thief on the cross who believed on Him for a matter of minutes before death. Hallelujah, what a Saviour! On the other hand the Christ orthodox Christians put their faith in can never fail because He is equal with the Father, Eternally Pre-existent, and was prepared before the foundation of the world to redeem us (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20).
When we see the 'doctrines of demons' (1 Timothy 4:1) spread by the money-preachers we have a clear barometer of their spiritual state and if we follow their example and seek financial blessing apart from the prosperity of our soul, we will give Satan a foothold in our lives which he will use to deceive us and lead us away from the truth. There is a world of difference between giving to help the starving millions in famine stricken countries and the selfish taking of the hucksters who are getting rich by exploiting the vulnerable Christian public. The Apostle John's desire for Gaius was clear: 'Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers' (3 John 2) and we know that God prospered Joseph in prison (Genesis 39:23), but the prosperity preachers would stretch this to mean that they both became financially rich. They obviously have a problem with the testimony of the tent-making Apostle Paul (Acts 18:3) who joyfully reported that he had learned both how to handle abundance and also how to suffer need (Philippians 4:12). According to the prosperity heretics they have more faith and spiritual maturity than Paul for they have accumulated fortunes - at the expense of the gullible. They conveniently forget that the Lord Jesus Christ pronounced blessings on the poor and woes for the rich and well-fed (Luke 6:20-25)! We cannot simply equate God's blessing with financial prosperity and good health and circumstances - if we do we join confused mystics like Glen Hoddle (former England soccer manager) and his guru, the witch Eileen Drewery, who have publicly declared their belief in reincarnation (a non-Christian belief culled from Eastern religion and embraced by the ignorant, such as the notorious Dr Leslie D. Weatherhead, former minister of the City Temple, London) and thus they condemn the disabled and our poorer brethren in Africa for their previous sin and lack of faith!
These con artists appeal to the desire for material prosperity in the Western world and Christians who participate in this deception convince the world that Christianity is a confidence trick because they have forgotten the truth that Scripture reveals: 'Be content with what you have' (Hebrews 13:5). Prophets who work for profit are condemned together with Balaam, of Beor (2 Peter 2:15), who forsook the right way and went astray, 'because they loved the wages of unrighteousness!' To seek after wealth and prosperity, exploiting the sheep in the process by over emphasising certain Scriptures and neglecting others is nothing short of love of money, and a sure mark of a deceiver and false prophet. The inspired Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 6:6-11) summed up the difference in these words of perfect advice for Christians:
6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. 11 But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.