Greek Apostle George E. Markakis shares guidelines for discerning the false from the genuine apostles!
5th article of this mini-teaching series on the office of the Apostle(s)
A long long time ago, somewhere far far away ... (all good stories need to be a long time ago in a faraway land... and so is mine!) ... a dear woman of God was driving me in her car (that is the proof that I was in a faraway land!). We saw two young ladies holding hands, facing each other very fondly, almost touching their noses as they shared a park bench... “oh those lesbians” my friend exclaimed without hiding her frustration. I said “How do you know they are lesbian? Perhaps they are very good friends”, to which she responded almost angrily...
“If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, then it is a duck!”
What seemed to have been a conversation in passing, ended up being the Voice of the Lord
for me, teaching me a very significant spiritual principle, that Jesus actually spoke of...
Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor [can] a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Jesus effectively said “if you gather a grape, then you know it is a vine; if you gather a fig, then you know it is a fig tree”; same principle as those lesbians and the duck! It is what it looks, feels, tastes like! I made a genuine effort to not think much of it, in the face of good, kind, committed and anointed people I have encountered and worked with in my life and ministry.
One of them was such an anointed and committed musician and singer who joined our ministry some years ago, saying that the Lord told her to do so. She served sacrificially offering great service, and took major initiatives that changed for the better how our ministry functioned and looked. Still... there was this little... “principle of the duck” that troubled me... after all, neither the vine nor the fig tree have sharp thorns, just like the sheep cannot howl or growl...
In spite of mounting evidence of the spirit of Jezebel in destructive operation I kept refusing to see who she really was, hoping and praying for the best, trying to change things for the better... only to realise that (when it was too late to reverse the damage) we had to suffer the painful and deadly consequences of my refusal to accept that ... ducks look like ducks after all!
The fruit identifies the inward nature of the wolves in sheep’s clothing
The above passage (Mat.17:15-20) about ‘ravenous wolves revealed by bad fruit’ comes right before v.21-23! After Jesus spoke of false prophets, wolves and bad fruit, He proceeded to say:
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
“False prophets” (i.e. ministers, not limited to prophets) according to these preceding verses (Mat.7:15-23), may show great faith, power, authority, anointing! As I tried to say through my story, “Jezebel” also has all of that and even calls upon the Name of Jesus as Lord! Yet, “she” is one of such “false prophets” operating in the Ekklesia of Jesus; outwardly having the appearance of sheep, but the fruit manifests a ravenous wolf on the inside. We are not talking about the works of ministry, or, the outward manifestation of the anointing, but the fruit of the heart!
What does the spirit of Jezebel and the false prophets have to do with Apostles?
The principles are the same when it comes to anointed Christian leaders. It is not what they can do in ministry which makes them genuine, but who they are inside! What we have inside will certainly manifest outwardly; that would be the fruit that Jesus spoke about. Example? Sure!...
Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to [Himself] and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave– 28 “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Some ‘Apostles’ are indeed great in works, power, authority; at the same time, they act like a boss (i.e. with attitude of superiority), lording it over others and using people to achieve their goals. Well... what does that look like? (remember the principle of the duck?)... If they act like one of the rulers of this world... it is because that is what is in their heart! Their heart is full of the need to lord it over others; by inward nature they are as one of the rulers of this world...!
Whereas, those who are genuine Apostles of Jesus find it in their heart to be “servants and slaves” of those whom they have been called to serve... that is what their inward nature dictates, same as Jesus who “did not come to be served but to serve and lay down his life for others”!
Are Apostles perfect? Absolutely not! Carnal sinfulness and weakness, errors and failures will always be there to remind us of God’s Grace and how much we need it in order to grow up in all things in Jesus, as we confess our sins and gradually die to carnal self, so that He may live in us in increasing measure. But false Apostles will not humble themselves and will not grow in Him.
At the same time, it is not by chance that ‘Jezebel’ and false prophets are mentioned in the article that speaks about false ‘Apostles’. False leaders cannot remain hidden for long from God’s genuine prophets... One of the primary purposes that God has placed His prophets in the Body of Christ is to reveal what is unholy and to expose the false. That is where the spirit of Jezebel is summoned by the enemy to make sure that God’s prophets are silenced, and replaced by false prophets in the Body of Christ. False ‘Apostles’ employ the spirit of Jezebel to protect them...
‘King Ahab’1 was like a ‘false Apostle’ in his days of old; a king of Israel but not a godly one. He pretended that he worshipped God but his heart was away from Him. He chose Jezebel to be his wife even though she was of the enemy camp. False ‘Apostles’ are afraid of genuine prophets of God who expose the secrets of the heart, and they would rather have the spirit of Jezebel silencing the true prophetic voices, than be exposed for being false. ‘Ahab-Apostles’ only approve voices that are subordinate to men’s authority and exalt man’s strength (but do not fear God).
What exactly is a ‘false Apostle’?
In 1 Kings 22 we see a comparison between the ungodly king Ahab of Israel and godly king Jehoshaphat of Judah. Both were kings of God’s OT people. Likewise in our days, both false and genuine Apostles hold positions of leadership and authority among God’s NT people. Both false and genuine have been born into and raised to leadership from among God’s people.
So, the first principle to remember is that false ‘Apostles’ look like genuine ones very much indeed! The resemblance is so great that it takes equally great discernment to tell the difference. You don’t need discernment to tell the difference between apparent darkness and apparent light. Spiritual discernment and careful observation of the fruit of the heart is needed to tell the difference as for example between different shades of light...! Paul gave us this warning:
2 Corinthians 11:13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
This shows that what is false is not the works and the ministry, but the inner nature of the person who does them! Paul’s words are in line with Jesus words in Mat. 7:15-23. Jesus said that the fruit will be according to the tree that produces it (the tree is the source, our inner nature).
What are the ‘road signs’ that help identify a false ‘Apostle’?
The outward appearance and works of the false appear like those of the genuine. We have already listed various signs of ungodly leaders (e.g. who want to rule and lord it over others; who are more comfortable tolerating Jezebel in the Ekklesia than God’s prophets). Paul also wrote a lot about false ‘Apostles’, such as here above (1 Cor. 11). Moreover, Jesus gave us keys of understanding in the verses printed in this article (Mat. 7:15-23 & 20:25-28).
Mat. 7:15 “they come” = on their own accord and initiative; they are not sent or called Mat. 7:15 “ravenous” = their purpose is to grab, to gain, to possess, to rule over
Mat. 7:16 “grapes from thornbushes”? = No! what comes from the heart is the truth!
Mat. 7:21 NOT “the will of the Father” = their motivation is from their desires & ambitions Mat. 7:23 “I never knew you” = either not called, or, not consecrated by corporate body Mat. 7:23 “lawlessness” = individualistic, self-centered, not submitting to higher authority Mat.20:25 “lording it over” = ruling by control and manipulation, forcing upon others Mat.20:26 “servant”/ 27 “slave” = such godly attitudes are absent or pretentious Mat.20:28 “give his life” = false leaders will not lay down their lives for the friends’ sakes...
The purpose of this article was not to present a comprehensive exposure and list of signs that help us identify the false from among the genuine, but to keep the awareness high that the Bible contains strong warnings about false ‘Apostles’ (even from the examples of the OT). It is our duty to put aside any humanistic feelings and be bold to apply the... principle of the duck...!
1 Ahab was a king of Israel who did evil in the sight of God - see 1 Kings 16:28-34 and 1 Kings chapter 18