Red Flags of Deception

I got this article from a blog that is no longer in existence, I didn’t write it and I don’t know who did so if you know who did write it let me know.  I would love to assign credit where it is due. Pay attention to see if you notice any of these Red Flags.  We have to be on guard and pay attention to these things lest we be deceived.

Red Flags of Deception

The following is a list of ‘Red Flags’ that are symptoms of deception in a person or group. In developing this list, I was concerned, not so much with addressing specific doctrines, but in identifying characteristics that are symptomatic of deception. I started writing this list when I noticed the many similarities between the Walk and the prophetic movement gaining momentum in Vineyard/Charismatic circles. These characteristics of deception predominate in Charismatic/Vineyard groups and in the Walk.

1. Spiritual elitism. This is the root of many delusions. Any kind of elitist belief is a certain indication of deception. Elitism is the belief that God has given a certain group special revelation/power/anointing that other Christian groups or previous generations have not entered into. They are on the spiritual cutting-edge, rising to spiritual levels not attained by other groups. It’s often dressed up as “Joel’s Army”, “Gideon’s Army”, and Elijah Companies of super anointed end-time warriors. Elitism is seen today in the ‘this-is-the-greatest-generation-ever’ kind of preaching we often hear. It can be found in the need to search out so-called ‘deeper’ truths and discover new, hidden mystical insights.

2. A tendency to marginalize the written Word. Watch out for any talk that plays down devotion to Scripture, such as “God is bigger than the Bible” or “God is doing a new thing, so put away your Bibles.” Marginalizing the written Word can take many forms:

a) Ignoring the Word. Neglecting private Bible study in daily life is a strong symptom of deception.

b) Disregarding the Word. A careless attitude towards obedience. I’ve seen examples of this in wild revival meetings in which people mockingly quote the verse, “Let all things be done decently and in order”, while they enjoy a good laugh over their disorderly and drunken behavior. Any teaching that plays down our requirement to be doers of the Word is a sure sign of delusion.

c) Deceived groups that marginalize the Word are often those who have an emphasis on prophecy. Beware of any emphasis on the revelatory, prophetic word, especially where there is a sidelining of the written Word. We are not to despise prophecy, but the real meat of the Word that nourishes the saints and builds them up in the faith is the written Word of God, not the prophetic. Teaching that would make Christians dependant on prophets or apostles for ‘current’ truth effectively marginalizes the Word of God.

d) “Fools despise knowledge.” Any kind of talk that does not give the Word the high regard it is due, effectively marginalizes the Word and is a sure sign that deception is at work in the group. As the Word says, “Choose my instruction instead of silver.” Love it more than anything else.

3. Prayerlessness in private. Neglect of private prayer time, alone with God, is a strong indication of deception. If it is prevalent across a church or movement, it indicates deception is taking hold of that group. Please note that deceived people will often continue to attend and even enjoy public church functions, especially when there is good sound, light or music – but private quite time loses its appeal.

4. Disdain for Berean[31] spirited searching of the scriptures. Any kind of anti-Berean, anti-discernment teaching that discourages people from questioning what is going on or being taught is a sure sign of deception. If you ever hear the leadership of your church group say anything along the lines of “put away your Bibles”, or “don’t worry about being deceived”, then head for the exit as fast as you can.

5. An inability to separate Godly criticism of their words from personal attack. Equating ‘Berean’ (Acts 17:11) activity with criticism. Such leaders may often talk about the ‘Jezebel spirit’ and the ‘accuser of the brethren’ and warn people about moving in a fault finding or critical spirit. What they are driving at is that if you question what is going on, or challenge what is being taught, you are being critical and run the risk of incurring the Lord’s disfavor.

6. Lack of accountability. One common trait among the new wave of apostles and prophets rising to prominence these days is that they do not like to be held accountable for their teachings and failed prophecies. Any criticism of their teachings and prophetic utterances is taken as an attack against their ministry.

7. Discernment primarily the prerogative of leadership. A tendency to see discernment as a special gift or anointing not available to everyone to the same degree, or that increases with higher spiritual office. The ‘higher’ you are on the prophetic ladder, the more discerning you are. Since leaders supposedly have better discernment as per their higher office, followers tend to trust the opinions of their leaders over their own, since the ‘apostle’ or prophet must have better understanding anyway due to their higher standing in the spiritual ranks[32]. Believers are not encouraged to trust their own discernment, or are encouraged only so long as it agrees with the overall word as set forth by the leaders. Discernment among the ranks becomes little more than a faculty (an inner witness of the spirit) that confirms what the Apostle or Prophet is saying.

8. Any form of Mystery Religion. A mystery religion is a religion that has successive levels of knowledge and ‘deeper’ truths, which are not necessarily available to all, at least not at first. Those in higher levels will know things not revealed, nor available, to lower levels. A new ‘believer’ comes in on the ground floor, and then progresses up through successive levels of spiritual understanding and empowerment as he is introduced to the ‘deeper’ truths.

9. Heightened interest with spiritual levels and rankings. Higher ‘spiritual’ rank is equated with greater closeness to God. Gifts and callings are typically ranked, and those higher in rank are seen as closer to God in some practical way, such as hearing from God more frequently and being more privy to God’s inner secrets. Those on higher spiritual levels have a privileged access to God that is not available to those holding lesser callings. As a result of their higher standing or special calling, God visits them more often and they receive greater mystical experiences than the rest.

10. Heightened interest in dreams, visions, new revelations and novel insights. This may not necessarily be explicitly stated in their Creed, and they may claim to believe the Bible as the Word of God. But in actual practice dreams, visions and revelations are the preferred stock-in-trade over sound Bible teaching and exposition of the basics.

11. An increase in subjectivity. Looking for subjective impressions, personal ‘prophetic’ words and ‘revelation’ for guidance and direction. Seeking the mystical ‘inner voice’ as guide over the written Word. You can be sure that if a person is seeking new personal ‘words’, it is because they are not in the Word, and serious deception cannot be long avoided.

12. Detractors dismissed as having inferior vision. They see themselves as being in tune with God, and anyone who is also in tune with the Divine will agree with them. Detractors are obviously not in tune with God and have inferior vision. This sets up a very neat circular reasoning that is almost impossible to get past. It is a defensiveness which is very difficult to penetrate, because they are convinced that detractors don’t have the same level of anointing or discernment as they have. As they see it, if detractors did have the same level of anointing, they’d be in agreement. They dismiss any criticism of their teaching or conduct as bitterness, jealousy or fault finding, while they themselves feel they have very sharp spiritual perception. People are truly discerning only as long as they support their movement.

13. Dismissive attitude towards detractors. Detractors given derogatory labels, such as ‘religious’, ‘old order’, ‘old wineskins’, or ‘Pharisees’. Detractors denounced as not being able to ‘handle it’, or they have a ‘Jezebel spirit’, or a ‘spirit of criticism’. They are ‘accusers of the brethren’, that sort of thing. Threats of God’s judgment on detractors and critics are a sure sign of a cultic mindset and delusion.

14. A ‘get-on-board-or-else’ mentality. A fear that you’ll miss God’s new move and be left behind if you don’t join up. God is doing a new thing and if you do not go along with it, regardless of how long you’ve been faithfully serving God over the years, God will pass you by and you’ll get left in the dust.

15. New thingism. God is doing a ‘new thing’ and you’d better get with it. There is now a further requirement if you want to remain a first class Christian and in God’s highest favour, which is to be a part of the new thing represented by the group. If you don’t come along, you run the risk of God passing you by.

16. A special anointing. A certain person or group has been anointed by God to introduce something to the rest of the Body. God has given it to them, and other believers can come to them to ‘get it.’

17. A priesthood. Placing a person or group in an exalted status with God, so that they become special intermediaries, is a sure sign of delusion. False movements and false religions invariable try to interject some kind of priesthood between the believer and God. This is seen whenever a person or group claims to have received something from God that can be received from their hands. They become an intermediary between you and Jesus Christ if you want more of God, and people are encouraged to go to the ‘anointed’ of the Lord to get it.

We see this today in certain revival circles where it is necessary to get more from God at the hands of a specially chosen vessel. Worship leaders have ‘an anointing’ to lead us into the presence of God. Prophets and apostles have a privileged access to receive things from God that the rest of the church needs. False religion always reverts to some form of human priesthood.

18. “Don’t think about it, just jump in” type of teaching that encourages people to throw caution to the wind. Encouraging followers not to worry or think things through, that God won’t allow them to be deceived. Just jump in before it’s too late or you may miss the boat.

19. Glorification of the vessel. An excessive focus on the ‘anointed’ person of God.

20. Old Testament ‘typed’ anointing. (A ‘Phineas’ anointing. The mantle of Elijah, etc.)

21. An excited interest in peripheral subjects not central to the gospel. A de-emphasis on the central themes of the gospel. They claim to agree with the gospel, but the bulk of their teaching, writing and prophetic messages show a greater interest in peripheral topics, novel insights and new revelation.

22. May talk unity, but bring division along lines of gender, age, race or nationality.

23. Watch out for leaders who love to surround themselves with minions who affirm their special anointing.

24. More interest in breaking through to new levels and remaking the church along new lines rather than reaching the lost with the good news of Jesus Christ.

25. False spirits love to show off and love center stage. They love to parade their subjective impressions and experiences up front for others to see. Publicly sharing highly subjective impressions and insights that cannot be proved or disproved one way or the other is a real “Red Flag”.

26. Conference chasing. Running from place to place to meet God. Any emphasis on experiencing God corporately more than privately is a symptom of delusion. Whenever people need to go to a conference or certain location to receive a ‘fresh’ touch, something is very wrong.

There is a whole generation of believers now who are bored with ‘quiet time’ alone with God, who don’t know how to meet God in the prayer closet, and can only meet with God and experience Him in public settings that provide the right mood and atmosphere, usually involving the right music. The reason so many are chasing God at conferences is because they are not in the Word and prayer at home.

27. The ‘anointed’ leader has a privileged access, a hot relationship, with God that the rest have yet to attain. They get angelic visitations, dramatic visions and prophetic insights, and they publish ‘prophetic bulletins’ to keep others abreast with what God is doing. Because the apostles and prophets are in such a privileged position of receiving the latest hot word from God, the rest are reduced to second hand status, anxiously awaiting the latest prophetic bulletin. Watch for groups that tend to place emphasis on the leaders anointing or relationship with God. This results in Christians running to conferences for a ‘fresh touch’ from those who seem to have ‘it’.

28. The Holy Spirit is seen more as coming to bring an experience rather than a greater understanding of the Scripture.

29. A tendency to distinguish between people who accept their movement as a true move of God and those who don’t.

30. Beware of any dichotomy between the Spirit and the mind. Any anti-intellectual position, such as the belief held in many charismatic circles today that exercising the mind will hinder the Holy Spirit, is a real indication of deception. Deceivers like to parrot phrases like: “God will offend the mind to reveal the heart.” This cute little mantra often repeated in certain revival groups sounds very spiritual, but is very false. A careful reading of the Word tells us the truth: God will inform the mind to convince the heart. Jesus often did offend the Pharisee’s – by telling them the truth! The Holy Spirit leads people to Christ by shining the light of God’s Word into their minds and convicting them of its truth.


30 thoughts on “Red Flags of Deception”

  1. Hello there
    I see your calla lily now here,
    very lovely. Nice blog

  2. Hi lunice
    You have done a really great job on your blog.
    Bless you…peazy

  3. I have added you to my links……

  4. Thank you peazy! I will add you to my blog roll too, I would have added you sooner but I just got a new laptop and I have been fighting my router for two days trying to stay connected to the net. I had to buy a new router and now it seems to be working! Hooray!

  5. I sent this to my old Pastor as well!

  6. Hey there lunice
    How are you? I am so
    enjoying all of my studying.
    There is so much to be learned!
    Bless u…peazy

    • I am great Peazy how are you? There is so much too learn, not enough time to learn it all either. I don’t even want to do my work, I just want to sit around and learn all the time, LOL. Bless U!

  7. re-inventing said:

    Really good blog. very important information.
    I read several of the books on your ‘Plan to Read’ list btw.
    you will really get a lot from them.

    So glad the Lord opened your eyes to the errors that you were being misled by. God is faithful to continue the work He started in us. That’s why He did that.

    It’s only by His mercy that I was woken up to the gross apostasy in my church and in the church at large.

    Never thought I would be without a church to attend.

    But, here I am, no church around me that hasn’t gone down the road of apostasy.

    I refuse left and right offers to take my daughter to youth outings, youth group, etc.

    No, they are no longer safe. It would be to me like taking her to the Catholic Mass.

    I left Catholicism when I turned 21 and God had saved me and opened my eyes to their deception.

    No, I cannot let my daughter be brought into Catholicism, not in the Roman one nor the new Protestant version.

    I really enjoy and am encouraged by sites like this.
    May God use this for His glory

    • Hey thanks for stopping by my blog! Glad to have you! There are so many more just like you without a church, several of us have gone through the same thing. My family was without a church for several months until we found a preacher on sermon audio in our area that was preaching the gospel. We listened to several of his sermons before visiting and we have been about 5 or 6 times now. It is just a small country church that preaches the word. Sue that visits this blog from time to time has also left Catholicism. So glad you stopped by!

    • I can’t wait to finish some of those books, I am so bad about having 5 or 6 books going at one time. I did finish The Truth War the other day and it was fantastic!

  8. re-inventing said:

    I want to read the Truth War. Gotta get it.

    I am so happy to find a site with like minded brethren.

    Your list of Red flags is so good.
    I am going to print and give to some friends who don’t
    get into the computer.

    anyway the whole list is great.
    I just would like to point out what you said in #17 Priesthood
    I think since I came out of Catholicism, I remember feeling especially annoyed by what I thought were Protestant versions of the Catholic Priesthood heresy. It’s all over the place in the visible body of Christ.
    I always have to say ‘visible body’ now, because the true bride/body of Christ is preserved by Him. It’s just that He is allowing the wheat and tares to grow together for the time being.
    anyway, this Priesthood error is so glaring that that to me was always a clue to run if I started going to a church that did that.
    I couldn’t understand back then why it had slipped into the body.
    Anyway, this list will be a great warning to many.
    I do think though that it’s by His great mercy and compassion that any believer escapes delusion.
    And delusion is appointed for those who don’t LOVE the truth.
    Lots of truth in Scripture. But the ATONEMENT of Jesus and what it results in is the most basic truth that cannot ever, ever be compromised on.

    2 Thes 2:8-12
    Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
    9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,
    10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because THEY DID NOT RECEIVE THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, so as to be saved.
    11 For this reason god will send upon THEM a deluding influence so that they WILL BELIEVE what is FALSE,

    • re-inventing said:

      clicked enter too early

      2Thes 2:12
      in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

      Wickedness is anything that is sinful.
      including ‘religious’ errors

      what Cain did in offering what God did not ask for was wickedness.

      purpose driven teachings are wickedness, mysticism in the church is wickedness.

      all of these will be judged as harshly as any other sin.
      but especially because in the end these two represent the denying of the finished work of the cross, in the atonement.

      The atonement is the centerpiece. any compromise on that doctrine is cause for being given over to the coming delusion. God sends this delusion to those who don’t love HIS truth on how to be saved. they love their own way to be saved and then are given over by God to believe the final lie of Satan.

      Come out of Babylon if your church is given to ‘change’ and replacing the Priesthood of Christ with other priests.

    • It is a really good article, I wish I could take credit for writing it and the truth is we are not sure who wrote it, I got it from Kit’s blog and it is also on Scattered Sheep. It is so good I think it should be on every blog, LOL!

      You know they are all headed back to Rome, we now call the Southern Baptist Convention, Suddenly Becoming Catholic. You know even in my old non-denominational church our pastor was put so high up on a pedestal, he was like a little pope. I even heard people say that if they couldn’t hear this particular pastor preach they didn’t want to hear anyone else. They had to have their weekly “fix” of him! Someone even said that to me one day, I was floored! When he was to be out of town the numbers would be way down, because he was what they were coming for, not Jesus, the pastor. Not to mention when you would have a conversation with someone they wouldn’t say”the bible says” it was “pastor says”. We were only there right around 3 years, and it got worse the longer we were there, thank the lord he called us out! We have to pray for wisdom and discernment daily and pray for others that are coming out of deception because it is such a hard and lonely experience to go through. When a person leaves a church or religion they are leaving behind friends and sometimes even family members, it feels like everything you have ever been taught is a lie. You don’t know who or what to believe or even where to go, oh but we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother! There are so many of us scattered around!

  9. Hello there re-inventing!

  10. mamaharper said:

    Amen re-inventing! I agree, the protestant church, what an oxymoron. what were we protesting anyway? I see all the hierarchies and it makes my stomach turn. Welcome to you, and yes it’s so wonderful that God in his infinite mercy has blessed us with the ability to fellowhip on the internet. I believe I would have been in much worse deception if not for the little bloggers on the internet. God bless, this is a great little family of bloggers! Check out kits blog on the blog roll too, and scattered sheep.

  11. sueliz1 said:

    Hi all…Hi reinventing again! Just to give you hope..and an update for the others: I think we have found a church. No Rick Warren stuff, no mega church, no entertainment. A small evangelical free church..oh and no Christian “rap” music! YAY. Skeptical and cautious, but hopeful. I’ll keep you all updated. Reinvent..I think ALL of us on these blogs have had a very hard time finding a non-apostate church. You are not alone!

    • Top O the mornin Sue! So glad that you found a church! I think we should all remain cautious in any church, all the time testing and searching the scriptures. Isn’t it great that we can all connect like this on blogs and share our similar experiences? I am thankful for each and every one of you today that the Lord has allowed me to share with!

  12. sueliz1 said:

    By the way, the folks on this blog, Kit’s blog, scattered sheep blog, Thus Minded blog are the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

  13. re-inventing said:

    Thanks to ALL of you for the welcomes.
    appreciate it.
    I will get around to all of your blogs.
    I get hungry for ‘fellowship’. But I do have
    a dear friend that I can talk to about God.
    She and I have known each other for over
    30 years. Never gone to the same church.
    but we have been dear friends. She just
    left her church 18 months ago.
    pretty much similar reasons. Its all thanks
    to church growth etc.

    anyway, lunice I listen to sermons on the internet also.
    read sermons too from the internet. Also I look for edifying sites like this. 🙂

    SBC-Suddenly Becoming Catholic! Ha, I never heard that before. So true.

    Was Frank Beckwith (sp?) Catholic do you remember? the PRESIDENT of a Christian College of Seminary no less, and he stepped down in May two years ago, to receive his ‘first communion’ and be received into the Catholic Church, on Mothers day! (and WHY couldn’t he just wait till the end of the semester and quietly resign? hmmm….. )

    Yeah, Protestant. We seem to have forgotten the real pronunciation of that word. As well as the intention.
    Susliz I hope you have a good church. I know that Evangelical Free is also dabbling in one of the various errors. Don’t remember which.
    You know it’s bad when you can no longer remember which denomination is going in which direction now. I do know this that there is evidence that every single protestant denomination at headquarters level at least, is going down one or multiple paths away from the truth.
    BUT, God is still in complete control. He still has HIS men who are not going those ways and they are continuing to be faithful and keeping out the bad and teaching the truth. Some are losing their jobs though as congregations sometimes want this new false gospel, new age, or socialist version.
    If you have kids be very cautious with what they are doing and hearing in any youth group or ‘Sunday School.
    I learned too late to reverse the damage that the Sunday School, wednesday nights and the retreats and missions trips had done to my boys. This is the biggest reason I had to leave ‘church’ and just keep my daughter home and away from the mess out there.

    Praising God for this blog! sorry I’m so long winded! 🙂

    • It is so important to teach our children the bible from an early age so that they can discern what is right and wrong when we aren’t there to filter it for them. Wish I had learned that 17 years ago! I didn’t come up with that suddenly becoming Catholic phrase, I can’t remember where I read it, but I thought it was funny and so true! I don’t believe the baptists are all connected to the SBC, I don’t think all baptist churches are even connected to a headquarters either, I may be wrong though. And there are so many different kinds of Baptist churches too.

  14. re-inventing said:

    when I asked was Frank B ‘Catholic’ I meant to ask was he Baptist? 🙂

  15. kittykit said:

    Bahahaha! I love that! SBC…suddenly becoming catholic! (fyi, my letter of faith would still be with the SBC!)…so I can officially laugh and you guys can feel ok about saying it. 😉

  16. Hello there lunice!
    Blessings to you…..:-)

  17. Hiya lunice

    I am inviting you to view my new digital art & phtography blog.
    God bless you….

  18. Another great blog. I’m so thankful for all of these people like you to help me get through this incredibly challenging time in my life. I have a long story that I don’t feel like telling right now but long story short The Lord brought me out of ‘Joel’s Army’ type deception. Then I started going back to my church of my childhood which is a Baptist Church. It was ok but it didnt take long for me to notice the deception there with everyone being so enamored with Beth Moore. I went to a conference 2 nights ago against my better judgement and saw Beth Moore. It made me physically ill. I went with my mother and 3 sisters, I had to leave early. I then didnt go to church on Sunday. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m fine staying home for myself and just hanging with Jesus, but my KIDS!!! Do you know of any good material or some guidelines for teaching my kids at home?

    • Charlene, Welcome to my poor little abandoned blog, I’m the worst blogger ever!! I have to start checking comments on my phone or something.

      Oh dear, Joel’s Army and Beth Moore!! Frustrating to say the least. I had the same kind of feelings, I wanted to stay home but wanted to raise my kids in church. Thankfully my family found a good Baptist church that isn’t Southern Baptist oriented.

      I would recommend looking for sermons on sermon audio, my church is on there, it’s Elizabeth Baptist in Bancroft WV. This would give you a place to look for sermons for yourself and maybe look for church’s in your area that you could listen online and then maybe check them out later. We found our church on sermon audio, my aunt started listening online and then we all visited and the rest is history.

      Now for the kiddo’s I have something that you can look into called “The Gospel Project” that is good for all ages. They have curriculum for little ones, older ones and adults. We ordered the leader guide and a student book for my daughter and we have done a few lessons and they have been good. We are on the fall 2012 session. I will see if I can get a video or something to post on my blog about it.

      Thank you for visiting my blog and I’m praying for the Lord to guide you, He knows you have a desire to teach your children so I’m praying that He leads you on what to do. God bless you!! I’ll check in here more often!!

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