Just because he sounds good, looks good, and is strong in his communication doesn’t mean it’s God-approved.
I remember when I was a new Christian and just hungry to hear good preaching and learn more about Christianity that I was scrambling for podcasts, sermon websites, and YouTube videos that could help me.
I had so many questions that I needed answered.
Through that process, I found some excellent communicators. When I say excellent, I mean very compelling, concise, and practical. Their advice and sermons held me spellbound at times and awestruck with how they had gotten so far in their walk with Jesus.
But as I would read more of the Bible and grow in discernment, I would find that that’s all they were, excellent communicators.
Communicators do one thing and one thing well: communicate. They are found as News Broadcasters, motivational speakers, public speakers, TED Talk hosts, radio personalities, advertisers and even salesmen. They have many skills in their bags, but one thing they must do well to be effective and successful is to persuade. In order to sell you (the buyer) their goods (the seller), they must tactfully and wisely use their persuasiveness to motivate you to “buy in”.
That’s exactly what God is getting at in Deuteronomy 13:1-4
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and give you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, “Let’s go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.”
God, especially in Old Testament times, would use a man to be His spokes-person to deliver a message to His people. Sometimes they would preach the message and other times would use signs and miracles to confirm its validity.
Moses was a prophet to Pharaoh and Egypt to deliver the Hebrews from bondage and slavery. However, he was also a prophet to the Hebrews, too! They were unbelieving and obstinate even until the moment Moses died!
Moses had his staff turned into a snake, turned the river into blood, led the plagues and even led through the Red Sea that was parted by God Himself. He was believable not only because of his words but because of what occurred at his leadership.
But a false prophet, however, is also a man that speaks on behalf of God, works signs and wonders, and claims to be for God’s people. What gives him away to be untrustworthy? It’s simple: who does he tell you to follow? “Let’s go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let’s serve them…”
A false prophet will always tell you to follow himself, his own god, or both.
Joseph was a “dreamer of dreams” and it got him in trouble! But he dreamt nonetheless. Some dreamers could predict future events with dreams they had. These would be used by God to convey a message to His people to repent or prepare for something to come.
A false dreamer would be a person who would fabricate their own agenda under the veil of a dream. THat’s what made it so sticky. It made it hard to contend with, because a man could have a dream, interpret it, share it with others, then sell it as God’s Word to His people! There was hardly any way of discrediting someone else’s experience.
This is the problem in our day, too. People will have “personal experiences” and dreams and then whole-heartedly believe them to be revealed from God Himself, and yet they may fail to filter them through God’s revealed Word, leaving God in the dust in pursuit of their own experiences. This is dangerous at best and damnable at worst.
I am all for people experiencing God, but I am whole-heartedly against people who claim personal experience that attempts to trump God’s revealed purposes and Word. This is why we have preachers and teachers who advocate sin, heresy, and pride as acceptable forms of practical living because of a personal experience they’ve had with Jesus.
This would rear its ugly head climactically in Jeremiah 5:30-31:
“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land (Israel): the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority, and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?
Did you catch that? Deception is rampant. Prophets are prophesying (teaching and preaching) falsely, and priests (who represent the people to God) are ruling with their own authority. This is bad. This is evil. This is pride.
What happens today is much the same. We have preachers who are pastors of megachurches (and small churches) who preach themselves, their own wisdom, and lead the church with an iron fist or their charismatic personalities and veil it with Biblical backing. They get by with it by either virtue of silver-tongued, ear-tickling, or through being the man that can just “get things done.” Either way, it’s dangerous and hazardous to the flock of God.
These people are in it all for themselves. Either their empire, their wallet, their image, or all three combined is their motivation. And what’s worse is that God gives the people over to this error. (2 Thessalonians 2:11; Romans 1:25; 2 Timothy 4:1-5)
So, who’s your favorite preacher?
Does Your Favorite Preacher
Preach Christ or himself?
Twist Scripture or uphold Scripture?
Lead you to love God or his “god”?
Teach you to look inward or look upward?
Who and what does he tell you to worship?