We have put much emphasis upon the necessity of God’s anointing as an expression both of His authority to preach the gospel and of the actual power of the gospel necessary to impart God’s life to dead sinners. Most people, unfortunately, have little or no idea what the anointing is or how to recognize it. That being the case, it is easy for the devil to raise up ministers (II Cor. 11:13-15) to deceive them.
The devil works in those he would deceive to fill them with ideas about God and about how to identify His ministers. At the same time he raises up ministers who fit the picture he has created.
For some, Satan associates God in people’s minds with a very dignified religious atmosphere filled with many outward symbols, special clothing, and much ritual and ceremony. For a minister to succeed in this setting he must be well educated, particularly in psychology. He must learn to manifest a smooth dignity that lends itself to the expected religious style that reinforces the belief of his hearers that they are serving God by keeping their religious machinery grinding away and doing “good works.”
Satan has trained others to associate God with certain emotions and even bodily sensations. Their ministers must be skilled both in manifesting and in evoking in others the appropriate feelings. Through the proper combination of music, words, and emotion, large crowds may be “worked up” into a religious fervor that they believe indicates God’s presence.
This same principle of religious belief and expectation coupled with ministry that suits the particular beliefs can be observed in virtually all of the varieties of “Christian” religion. In some cases what we are observing is the dead outward form of something that at one time actually had a measure of real life. Those who so fervently preserve and promote the form are unaware that “the glory is departed.” I Sam. 4:21, II Tim. 3:5.
Many folks have come to associate God with a certain style of speech. One example is the speaker who pours out a torrent of words at a fever pitch punctuated by gasps. This is supposed to be the Holy Ghost giving him the words so fast he can hardly get them out. This is nonsense. It is simply a style that has been learned and handed down in ignorance. People who believe in it are held captive, afraid to question.
Can you imagine Jesus teaching on a hillside carrying on in such a manner? On at least one occasion, Jesus taught the people from a boat beside the shores of Galilee. If Jesus had preached in the manner many today have come to associate with the Holy Ghost — feverish words, strong emotions and physical demonstration — it surely would have been one of the great miracles of His ministry that the boat didn’t tip over!
How many times have we observed someone’s personality change when they stand behind a pulpit? The carnal become sanctimonious with a phony-sounding religious tone of voice. The timid become extremely bold. The anointing does not change a man’s personality!
Jesus didn’t put on a phony religious voice when he spoke. Paul didn’t place any emphasis on “excellency of speech” (I Cor. 2:1). The anointing may or may not be present in words that are demonstrative and forceful or in words that are quiet and simple. The anointing is not linked with or restricted to any particular style. It is a spiritual quality — an added dimension — that only comes from God.
Of course, not every religious manifestation that goes beyond the natural ability of the man is God’s anointing. There are plenty of demons in our world whose specialty is counterfeiting God’s anointing. It requires God-given discernment to tell the difference.
Man, all by himself, has many natural abilities that may cause others to be impressed. We differ from one another and some have a natural charisma and leadership ability that enables them to lead and influence others.
When we observe someone who is successfully leading and influencing others religiously we need to be aware that there are three possible sources of inspiration. It could be just the man himself. It could be a demon. It could be God. Because of the power of darkness and our corrupted nature most hearers will gravitate to the first two and shy away from the latter. It takes a miracle for a man to recognize and hear God when He speaks.
It might be wondered: How many of each kind are there? When Jesus spoke of those who would come in his name and deceive, he used the word “many.” Matt. 24:5. When he spoke of those who “work iniquity” in Matt. 7:21-23, he likewise said they were “many.”
In Matt. 7:13-14, Jesus uses the word “many” in contrast with “few” when he speaks of the wide gate and the broad way and of the strait gate and the narrow way. This is in the same context as his words in verses 21-23. It is evident that there is a direct connection between those who are false prophets and work iniquity and those on the broad way. It is also very evident that those on the broad way are greatly in the majority. I believe it is also evident that the false prophets are also a similar majority.
It is their religious efforts that result in the multitude on the broad way. The broad way is more than simply living in the world. It is a religious way. It is a way in which men believe they are acceptably serving God and heading for heaven. Unfortunately it is the invention of apostate religion and leads to destruction.
A true prophet is someone who speaks as a representative of God. A false prophet is not necessarily someone weird, way-out and obvious. It is someone who undertakes to lead and influence others religiously who has not been sent or equipped by God to do so. He may be sincere and zealous. But, as we pointed out earlier, sincerity is not enough.
Someone not sent of God, but fired with religious zeal, must, in the absence of the true anointing, rely upon substitutes. There are many that are easy to detect if one becomes used to the true anointing. Such things as zeal, enthusiasm, tear-jerking emotion, shouting, physical antics, humor, sanctimonious tone, scholarship, pet doctrines and sayings are but a few of the substitutes employed. Just because a minister feels and imparts a surge of emotion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s God. He may cry and move his hearers to tears, yet God be totally absent.
The thing is that all of these substitutes belong to the natural realm. Any of them can be easily reproduced by a skilled actor. No actor, however, can manufacture God’s anointing.
The scriptures plainly warn against “spiritual counterfeiting,” against trying to speak for God without being sent, and warns hearers that there are many who do just that.
The Israelites were given a special formula for a literal anointing oil to be used only as God directed (Exodus 30:22-38). Any who misused it or counterfeited it were to be cut off from the people. This is an obvious type and a warning to us today.
The anointing oil was specifically not to be poured upon man’s flesh (Ex. 30:32). God’s anointing is not for religious rebels — those who act outside of God’s call, preparation and leadership. A vessel God would use must be broken and brought to a place of submission and separation.
God is not in the business of sanctifying and blessing the fleshly religious efforts of men. We cannot conceive and bring forth some religious work and expect God to come and bless it. We must learn to wait upon His leadership without being influenced by the religious activity around us. Religion craves visible success. We must wait upon Him for such results as He has purposed to give. Let religion build its mighty kingdoms. They will soon be ashes. His work will endure forever. And He has promised to finish His work and cut it short in righteousness. Rom. 9:28.
In spite of the flood tide of religious confusion, God’s voice is in the earth today. He speaks, as He did in Noah’s day, a message of warning and of the need to prepare. There is more to being ready for Christ’s coming than being “saved.” I put that in quotation marks because most religious people are totally deceived as to what “being saved” really means. Noah was a man who found favor with God, but he still needed the ark. God gave very specific instruction and He alone has the knowledge we need to find a place of safety in today’s rising flood of darkness.
I hope you are one who is a candidate for what God is saying and doing in this hour. Are you a part of the remnant able to be aroused and delivered from Babylonian captivity? I hope so!