A lot of blog post ideas come to me in the car. I was on my way to work when I heard the phrase ‘beware of spiritual exhibitionism.’ Huh? I looked up the word.
act or practice of behaving so as to attract attention to oneself (merriam-webster)
I thought about it some more and several verses came to mind. Our verse for emphasis is Matthew 24:24 from the English Standard Version (ESV).
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
The thing about end-time preaching and prophecy, which God in His mercy allowed released for decades, is that we rarely hear or are provoked to consider how the deceptions will manifest. Thus, we are taken in (even for a moment) by the accuracy and charisma of people who profess to operate in Jesus’ name.
Matthew 24:24 says that false christs (see 1 John 2:18) and false prophets will emerge, will arise, and perform great signs and wonders. The purpose of the false signs and wonders is to lead God’s people away from God. But what does this look like? I don’t know.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. ~ 1 John 4:1-3 ESV (emphasis added)
What I do know is that God gave us a way to recognize false prophets, and it is not by
- accurate prophecy
- great signs
- great wonders
It is not even “by the Spirit” — as in “try the spirit by the Spirit” — which is a horrible misquoting of scripture that leads believers to nothing… meaning taking no action at all. We try the spirits TO SEE IF THEY ARE OF GOD. The way we know false christs and false prophets is to hear their words. If their speech denies the redemptive work of God through the flesh of Jesus, then they are not of God.
Let’s unpack that. 1 John 4:2 says the way we know the Spirit of God is when the human spirit or the spirit speaking through the prophets confess Jesus came in the flesh to earth. This fact is a bedrock of our faith, that God came to earth in bodily form, lived a sinless life, and became sin for us and died to satisfy the wrath of God. To make this confession is to accept and preach the redemptive work of God for mankind (see 2 Corinthians 5:15).
Now, I cannot describe exactly the kinds of great signs and wonders that false christs and false prophets will work before us. What I can describe is how God’s people are falling off the wagon today…and it is by messages that
- refer to God in the generic, God this and God that with no reference to the name that makes the difference — JESUS
- lock us into natural and soulish experiences in the name of relevance and reaching the audience
- focus on people to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom down to them instead of demonstrated before them
- present no biblical standard for living
- focus on the personal lives and failings of leadership instead of pointing people to the redemptive work of Christ (that by the way, is strong enough to help us all)
- divert us to personal prophecy instead of identity
- encourage life in a parallel reality, where we walk in godly authority while we lick our carnal wounds — no healing, no wholeness, no confrontation with truth, no submission, no death to the flesh, no laying down of will and opinion… just we understand and tell your truth (not acknowledege/confess your truth and overcome)
You can probably add more to the list. I just want to put this on our minds. As the day of the Lord approaches, we will see spiritual exhibitionists. They will work great signs and great wonders and even remind us that signs follow those who believe.
Beloved, let’s not be so easily moved. Let’s not be suspicious, but discerning. Let’s walk in love and divine protection and wisdom. Let’s listen for the confession of the risen Christ who in the flesh died for us all.
Selah, and love to all.