“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.”
(Rick Becker – Famine In The Land) 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.
- 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.
- 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….