By Rev. Johnny Lee Clary
The world is full of fake preachers. Some have small churches and some have large churches. Some are well known TV celebrities and some are not. Ok, so how does one recognize them? Do you know how? Can you and your family tell the difference between a genuine real man of God or a fake charlatan? Any parent in their right mind would go to any lengths to protect their children from pedophiles and dope pushers. In the same respect, you have a responsibility as a parent to protect your family against these fakes and their heresies they teach from their pulpits. “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
Jesus said we would know them by their fruits. "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-16)
One thing to watch out for is they often impose rules and regulations upon their congregation and attempt to control their personal lives. When the preacher starts imposing rules such as asking permission to miss church, watch out! He might even say that single women should look at him as their “spiritual father” and forbid them to date without his permission and approval of the man they are dating. Fake preachers will also tell you that you are forbidden to watch certain movies or TV programs, listen to secular music, go to worldly places, etc.
My wife Melissa, tells the story about how when she used to attend a certain church in Miami, Oklahoma when she was a teenager, the pastor forbade the church members to go see the movie “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas,” which starred Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds. The pastor and his board of elders, took turns setting across the street from the movie theater, writing down the names of any people they recognized that went into the theater. Another time, Melissa was working at a skating rink and some of the women from the church approached her and told her she was in sin because she was leading the kids astray by playing secular music at the skating rink and allowing dancing on the skates. They offended her so bad that she stopped attending that church.
People come to church to worship God, be encouraged, be taught the word of God, and not to be controlled.
A fake preacher will often build his ‘church’ which turns into a cult, by tearing down someone else’s church, stealing the sheep, and bad-mouthing other ministries. A true man of God will never use tactics like that to build his church.
Why do people listen to fake pastors? Well, some people are just vulnerable and easy to deceive. That is why it is important to know God’s word, study it, pray and be filled with the Holy Spirit so you can walk in discernment. This will protect you and your family from falling victim to fakes.
Eventually people will wake up and smell the coffee sometimes. Other times however they don’t until it is too late. Such as was the case with Jim Jones and the People’s Temple. Around 1000 people either committed suicide or were murdered at the hands of this cult, which consisted of mind control, sexual immorality, child abuse, homosexuality, and other types of perversion and unhealthy relationships. The People’s Temple was a large mega church and had memberships in the thousands. It held large crusades which packed out stadiums all over the USA, until its demise. Fake preachers come in all shapes and sizes and so do their churches. Just because a church is a large church does not mean it is not a cult. Thousands of people can be deceived the same as a handful of people.
Another thing to watch out for is when the fake preachers start distorting God’s word, adding to it, or only preaching half-truths. For instance, when they say “Jesus never said such and such so that means it’s OK.” Wrong! Jesus does not have to spell out every single thing. People, especially believers are expected to use common sense and wisdom. One preacher wrote a blog where he said Jesus never addressed the issue of homosexuality, and implied that because He didn’t mention it, it is ‘OK to be gay.’ First of all, it is not recorded that Jesus ever preached against the sin of having sex with a gorilla or a donkey either, but that does not mean it is OK. Only a certified idiot would believe that type of philosophy but there are a lot of idiots out there. Second of all, this guy does not know that Jesus did or didn’t mention it because it says in St. John 21:25 that there were many other things that Jesus said and did that if every one of them were written down, the world wouldn't have enough room for the books that would be written. Last but not least remember the word of God says “Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6)
If the pastor of the church you are attending starts suggesting that homosexuals should be allowed to join the church or get married, or if the pastor begins to question things like the virgin birth, the second coming of Christ, whether or not there is a Hell, and whether Jesus is the ONLY way to get to Heaven, get out of that church fast! If the preacher even suggests that God will judge whether or not Muslims or other cults go to Heaven and it is not for us to judge, run away fast because that preacher is too cowardly to preach the truth that Jesus said which is He is the ONLY way to get to Heaven. (John 14:6)
A fake preacher will try to convince his church that God speaks through him even if it is in contrast to God’s word. He will also put more emphasis upon himself rather than God, and either he or his leadership teams will stress the ‘word’ of the pastor more than the word of Jesus. They will also cause division in your home or even your marriage. People will also become disappointed with God or the church because fake preachers will make promises claiming to speak for God, and they never give instructions on how to seek God for fulfillment of these promises. The fake preacher gets the people all sidetracked into programs that center on other things that distract from seeking Jesus, and people lose that special personal time with God and then they feel abandoned, empty and disillusioned with God and the church. They begin to see their relationship with God as meaningless. When this happens the light seems to go out in them. The happiness and joy leaves and they stop producing the fruit in their lives that Jesus says people will know them by. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”(1 Timothy 4:1)
How do we protect ourselves from fake preachers?
- KNOW GOD’S WORD and make sure what is being preached lines up with it. Titus 1:9 says be devoted to the trustworthy message that is taught. Then he can use those accurate teachings to encourage people and correct those who oppose the word. Don't let anything including your church and your preacher come between you and your time with God in study of His word. If you don’t make time for God’s word you can be in danger of being led astray.
- Make sure your preacher and his church leaders believe the entire bible word for word and not just part of it.
- Make sure your preacher is consistent in what he preaches and that he lives his life for God all the way.
- Have nothing to do with fake preachers, their leadership or anyone who teaches false doctrine. 2 John 7-10 tells us that we are not to even speak to or greet those who teach false doctrine. Get as far away from fake preachers as possible and do not give them the time of day.
Today, these new age churches are teaching many things that do not line up with the word of God and they are open to new age ideas and philosophies that they call “thinking outside the box.” All they care about is church growth because it expands their power base and gives them prestige positions in the world of butt kissing and church celebrity celebration. They are not only embracing and teaching worldly philosophies that do not line up with the word of God, but they are openly hostile to the ones that do. “A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
That time is here.
Therefore watch, pray, listen, be cautious, and do not neglect God’s word. When you know the word, you know the truth and the truth shall set you free. By the way, the truth is defined as JESUS. He is the way, the truth and the life! The more you set your eyes upon Him, the safer you will be. If you are in the right relationship with Jesus, you probably won’t fall into the snares of these predators known as fake preachers.