Analysis: EMELDA MUSONDA
THE Bible in Matthew 7:15 says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
It is saddening that despite God’s numerous warnings of false prophets in the scriptures, many people, especially women, have continued to fall prey to these wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Now more than ever, it is common to hear of women being abused in the name of deliverance or receiving a miracle.
Recently, there was a video making rounds on social media of a ‘prophet’ ministering healing to a female congregant through kissing.
We’ve also had people sacrificing all their hard-earned incomes and even retirement benefits at the feet of ‘prophets’, with a promise of getting a miracle.
Unfortunately such people have been relegated to destitution as they continue hoping for their miracle.
We’ve also heard of how congregants have been made to eat snakes, grass and rats, among other strange things.
What is worrying is that in all these acts congregants do not see anything wrong and therefore do not question.
The Bible in Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
It is clear that many people are paying the price of ignorance by falling prey to imposters masquerading as prophets of God.
People are being deceived because they are lazy to read the Bible to know the truth.
In 1 John 2:26-27 God says, “I have written these things to you because you need to be aware of those who want to lead you astray.”
This goes to show that it is only through in-depth understanding of the scriptures that people will escape the trap of false prophets.
This is because false prophets thrive on people’s ignorance of the word of God, thereby feeding them with half-truths or destructive heresies.
The Bible in 1 John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
How can people test the spirits if they are not equipped with the word of God and the Holy Spirit to do so?
Genuine men of God therefore have a huge task now than ever before to ground their members in the truth that is only found in the Bible.
It is only when people know the truth that they shall be set free.
It is, however, sad that even some pastors who are genuinely called to serve God are not taking time to teach congregants the word of God in depth.
A Sunday preaching alone is not enough to ensure that members are rooted in the word of God.
This is why some members who belong to churches run by genuine pastors are also falling prey to false prophets as they are not established enough to resist the decoying of false prophets who are always attracting masses.
The starting point for pastors should be to strengthen church cells. Church cells are the pillars of any church as they provide a platform for in-depth study of the Bible among congregants. In cell meetings congregants are also able to ask questions thereby deepening their understanding of scriptures.
Pastors should also ensure that their teachings are not only tilted towards financial prosperity but should be balanced to cover all aspects of Christianity, especially repentance and salvation.
Pastors should also come up with strategies to help develop a culture of studying the Bible on a daily basis among their followers away from church.
It is commendable that some pastors have devotional books which members can use to study the Bible on a daily basis. This makes it easy for those who do not know where to start from to study the word of God.
When members of the church are deeply rooted in the word of God, they will be better placed to test the spirits and look out for the fruits in the men of God.
For the Bible says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Mat 7:16
Love for money is therefore one of the fruits identified with false prophets. Whatever they do is motivated by financial gain rather than preaching the gospel for the salvation of souls.
False prophets also have no love for people but are self-centred. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
False prophets also manifest through pride. They hold themselves highly and look down on others and those serving under them. They are also uncorrectable because they equate themselves to God, who is all-knowing.
You will also know false prophets by their moral standing which is inconsistent with the gospel they preach. Most of these false prophets are ingrained in fornication, adultery, theft, lies and many other sins.
It should, however be noted that there are pastors who engage in sin not because they are false prophets but they have been subdued by their human nature.
False prophets, on the other hand, subtly endorse sin and in their sermons repentance and salvation is always missing.
These are preachers who tell congregants that drinking is fine because Jesus made wine, ignoring the fact that the Bible says drunkards will never inherit the Kingdom of God.
As the end draws near, it is more inevitable now than ever to study the word of God in depth to be able to escape the deception of false prophets and possibly make it to heaven.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.