A TUTORIAL ON EFFECTIVE SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Teaching, Training & Commissioning
A TREE AND ITS FRUIT
Jesus warns us, in Matthew 7:15-20, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “So, then, you will know them by their fruits.
We are drawing ever closer to the time when Jesus will expect you to be a fully functioning and fully devoted follower. This teaching is representative of that, and, comes in two parts.
The first part is a warning and a call for the Christian and disciple to use Spiritual discernment when encountering false prophets.
The second part is also a warning, but, it is to be applied to yourself and to others. It describes the severe consequences reserved for false prophets and deceivers.
Verses 15-20 tells us to be on the alert because you will encounter false prophets who take on the appearance and behavior of one of God’s own people. Jesus calls them ‘false prophets’, so we can assume they are using the moniker of pastor, prophet or teacher.
You are being taught and instructed to watch the fruit of the lives, particularly, of those claiming to hold the office of pastor, prophet or teacher or church leader. We, too often, revere and elevate the man in such an office as guiltless, because of his or her position. This can be a deadly mistake. There comes a time, when a pattern of behavior will disclose the nature and character of the person. (‘their fruit’). Beware! A person bearing bad fruit is headed to destruction, and they will take many with them.
Jesus explains the consequence in store for the false prophet or teacher, in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
Verse 23. “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
A mark of a false prophet is most often accompanied by a pattern of spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse is a form of emotional and psychological abuse used by pastors, (false prophets), or church leaders or even by ‘lay people’, to control, coerce, manipulate and exploit others, in a religious context.
This abuse may include, among other methods:
- manipulation, exploitation, enforced accountability,
- censorship of decision-making,
- requirements for secrecy and silence,
- coercion to conform,
- inability to ask questions,
- control through the use of sacred texts or teaching, requirement of obedience to the abuser,
- the suggestion that the abuser has a ‘divine’ position(i.e., ‘don’t touch God’s anointed’),
- marginalization and/or isolation as a means of punishment, and
- superiority and elitism.
Spiritual abuse can have a deeply damaging impact on those who experience it, especially at the hands of a trusted Christian authority figure, such as a pastor.
We are now entering into the heat of Spiritual Warfare, where peoples lives and eternities are at stake. These false prophets must be exposed and abandoned in the Church.
Finally, and most importantly, check yourself on these matters. Make certain you do not possess or practice any of these traits or methods.
It is common for a person to start off right, but, when one is tempted and enticed by his own lust, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
Pray. Watch. Submit yourself to Him.
Your Brother and Friend,
(NOTE: If you suspect spiritual abuse is occurring in your church or religious organization, you should separate yourself from the abuse and the abuser, and speak with a superior or to an oversight organization, if there is one. Be careful not to accuse, but to inquire.
If you have been the subject of Spiritual abuse, again, separate yourself from the abuser and report the pattern of behavior to the church’s headquarters, ask for and get assurances of confidentiality. And seek personal counseling.
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