The book I am currently reading is by J Lee Grady, editor of Charisma Magazine, entitled The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale: Rekindling the Power of God in an Age of Compromise, and I believe this is one powerful book every Christian leader needs to read.
In his chapter on the Fire of the Supernatural Anointing, he gave his readers some guidelines to follow in order to avoid being deceived from churches and movements that abuse the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
1. Don’t deify human beings.
Christians are prone to deifying preachers. I know that because I am one. We live in an entertainment-filled culture. We tend to make Christian celebrities out of pastors or ministries. Also when some people from the entertainment industry gets saved, we invite them to different ministries and extol them not thinking about first discipling them and getting them grounded. When we love a certain preacher, we tend to level his preaching to the word of God. That is when things become spooky and mystical.
Don’t deify people. Most can’t handle that kind of treatment. As pastors, we also need to guard our hearts. Don’t believe your own press release. Don’t let pride settle in your mind and your heart.
Paul was tempted to be one but rejected the suggestion. ( Acts 14:11-12, 28:6). Jesus is the hero, not you.
2. Don’t elevate anointing over character.
It was pastor Jim Laffoon who warned us years ago – don’t measure yourself under the anointing. As pastors, when we move in the anointing, it is for the people to be ministered to. Don’t even think for a second that it is because of you.
In the New testament, we are given guidelines on the character of people who should be leading the church (1 Timothy 3:2-7). Just follow the biblical command and we eliminate most of the problems we have in church.
3. Dismiss the sensational.
I personally had to fight with this inside the church. We would have other people exposed to other ministries related to the manifest gifts of the Holy Spirit and they would sensationalize everything. Everything was about healing, casting out demons while neglecting the work of the Holy Spirit when it comes to repentance and discipleship.
When ministries tend to sensationalize the Holy Spirit, our spider sense must be warning us already. It is red flag! It is a warning. When ministries tend to deify their pastor or preachers – that is a red flag.
Galatians 5:22-23 gives us guidelines on the fruit of the Holy Spirit. When preachers tend to highlight the person rather than Jesus – think hard.
When teachings become sensational and out of Scripture – run as far away as you can. I have personally heard of people being encouraged to get out of their bodies and have a field trip in heaven, casting out demons by transferring demons to stronger Christians so they could ultimately cast it out since the stronger Christian can handle the demons, people shaking violently and howling – I know it sounds like I am joking – I am not. Ask J Lee Grady.
4. Teach and practice discernment (I Corinthians 12:10)
1 John 4:1 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.
Test the Spirits. One of the things I always asked before I hear a certain preacher or invite a certain preacher is if he/she is working under the local church. We have seen so many fly by night preachers and prophets who are not working under the covering of a legitimate local church.
I have heard of so called prophets being invited to small groups and bible studies and would prophesy over people and then ask for money from them. Some would preach sensationalism using the manifest gifts of the Spirit.
If you are under a local church, inquire first from your local pastors if they know anything about certain individuals before even proceeding to attend their meetings or invite them. But the best practice is for you to work and minister in your local church, asking the Lord to empower you to make disciples and move in the power of the Holy Spirit.
KEY is to work under the local church.
5. Enforce accountability
During the first year of our church in Greenhills, a lady preacher from the States who was attending the church in Sundays wanted to meet with me. When we had the meeting I was surprised because she had notes of things she didn’t like about the church.
Number 1: That I am not as empowered because I am accountable to our senior leadership team in Metro Manila.
I then told her I am so happy with our leadership, because I am working under the covering of men who fear God and who would hold me accountable if ever I do something wrong.
Number 2: She was angry because I did not acknowledged her ordaining some members in our church who deified her.
I told her on what power can you ordain members of our church. You don’t even have legal rights in the Philippines, which is a Christian nation, to ordain members you like. Secondly, I told her that the members you ordained are not qualified under 1Timothy 3 to be ordained ministers. I then informed her that we treat the ministry of pastors with sacredness and not just ordain people because they support our ministry.
She wanted no accountability. This is how cults operate and are birthed. When a specific man is above everyone and wants no accountability. They are what Jude called “hidden reefs” and clouds without water.
Jude 1:12English Standard Version (ESV)
12 These are hidden reefs[a] at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear,shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;