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God's Rebuke for False Prophets and Teachers - Discernment 101

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The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them." Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. - Ezekiel 34:1-10 (ESV)

The modern apostate church, which is the dominating presence today, has made us almost immune to conviction when it comes to false prophets and teachers. I was recently speaking to a brother who certainly seemed very stable doctrinally and yet they were constantly excusing wolves as egregious as Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince. The argument goes something like some people end up saved because of their exposure to those ministries. Now, it is true that God can save anyone, anywhere, as He could also choose to heal someone at a Benny Hinn healing crusade. He is God. He is sovereign. The notion however that the charlatan deserves any credit is absurd. The other mistake often made is in only judging sincerity. Listen, I am ok with the notion that Joel Osteen is sincere but as my pastor is fond of saying we can be sincere and sincerely wrong. For every person that might go from Osteen to a good church and be saved there are hundreds if not thousands that think they are saved when they are not. That is why God is so clear about His view about false prophets or teachers in His word.

We need to remember that there are always real victims of false teaching. Seattle is still littered with bleeding sheep from the Mark Driscoll fiasco years ago. We all know people who absolutely refuse to return to church because of promises not kept through false prophecies and teaching. Locally I knew a good brother who went up for "healing" from a false itinerant prophet. He had hands laid upon him and danced across the altar believing his degenerative hip, which needed replacement, had been healed! Then next week he was limping again and when I asked what happened he realized he had just had an emotional reaction. Today the hip has been replaced and to God be the glory. Thankfully he was strong enough in his faith to know it was the false prophet and not God who deserved the blame. One of the worst attacks against discernment is the wrong belief that we measure teachers/prophets up against some personally held standard. That we simply disagree with them. Nonsense, God disagrees with them! The proof is throughout scripture but today we will exegete one section from Ezekiel and another later on from Jeremiah. While these messages were for Israel at the time these men served as prophets, we know they were directly from God and His view about those who falsely speak for Him or mangle His word remains unchanged. We can see the eerie comparisons to what we see today because those working under the carnal lusts of this world have not changed their tactics. The devil does not change his strategies because as humans, we refuse to learn from them. The sin of Lucifer wanting to ascend to be God is the same sin he convinced Eve to commit in the garden and it is the same sin he convinces false teachers and prophets to commit today. It is usurping what belongs only to God. So let us reason once more, through the scriptures, to be fully aware of the strategies the devil uses against us through those the teach and prophesy falsely.

"The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?"- Ezekiel 34

About ten years ago, mega-heretic Andy Stanley came out in an interview and said the church should no longer use the term shepherd because it was no longer culturally relevant. I wrote at the time the silliness of this. The world makes cultural arguments to try and change what God has said, not His people. God uses the analogy of shepherds for His reasons. His word is transcendent throughout the generations of human history. The gospel that saved the 4th century serf saved the 14th century farmer and us today as well. It does not need to be changed, altered, made more seeker-friendly, culturally relevant or purpose driven. The teacher/prophet's job is not to alter one iota of God's word but rather to preach it. The job description is pretty simple - feed the sheep. What was the answer to all of the questions Jesus asked of Peter when asking if he loved Him? Then feed my sheep! The shepherd has two tools, the staff guides the sheep, and the rod protects them from those that would prey upon them. In spiritual terms we call those people false teachers and prophets. They make merchandise of the gospel and make food out of the sheep. For too many today who teach and prophesy it is but a job and they are but a hireling. They have no problem feeding themselves, but the sheep starve. The seeker-friendly theories of church growth and the purpose driven church teachings both cater to the lost by finding cultural relevance to them by sacrificing the gospel and thus starving the sheep.

"You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them." - Ezekiel 34

I remember once a follower of Creflo Dollar was bragging that he had bought $50,000 worth of backpacks for kids in the Bronx and for those kids that got them I am sure it was appreciated. That does not change that at that time Mr. Dollar lived in a multi-million-dollar mansion and was asking his church to fund a new private Learjet for him at the price tag of 70 million dollars. You eat the fat and clothe yourself with wool but do not feed your sheep. That is the point God is making to those that teach and preach falsely for personal gain. Twenty-minute sermonettes on how to become more relevant in your community or a summer series extolling the nature of blockbuster Hollywood movies does not strengthen the weak or heal the sick. It does not bound up the injured or seek the lost. Rick Warren teaches aspiring pastors in his heretical Purpose Driven Church book about something his evil heart concocted called "blessed subtraction." This teaches them that it is perfectly fine to let sheep wander out of your pen as long as you are bringing in new ones to replace them. Where do the hurt ones go? Who cares? Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill infamy once quipped that the people he was hurting because they disagreed with his vision were just "bodies under the Mars Hill bus." The part most do not know is the quote actually begins with Driscoll saying he is all about "blessed subtraction." Many purpose driven pastors lord themselves over their sheep and are harsh as the Lord accuses here. I know local pastors who have stolen church memberships from people involved in their churches for decades over the bogus teaching of tithing. I know one who had stopped tithing because they were in the hospital and then their membership was pulled. I have heard local pastors berate their sheep by telling them if they disagree, they need to leave! These admonitions from God to the shepherds of Israel thousands of years ago are completely accurate for those posing as shepherds in His church today.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
 
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