“’Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”’”
— Matthew 7:21–23 (NASB)
Just because someone says they are doing something in the name of Jesus does not mean it is actually from Jesus. This not only applies to those claiming to prophesy in Jesus’ name whose predictions do not come true or the charlatan faith-healers whose exploits cannot be medically substantiated, but as a general rule. Much spiritual damage lingers today among Jewish Holocaust survivors whose Nazi tormenters claimed to be Christians acting in the name of Christ. But even if a prophesy comes true or a miracle can be substantiated, it is important to know that an authentic messenger is proven by the quality of their obedience to God’s Word and ways and not by such works alone.
There is a list of such people which is just too long to even begin to cover in this limited space who have claimed to prophecy, do miracles, and whose lives are a stark contrast to the work they claim to do in the name of Christ. One of the most recently prominent of these is a guy named Todd Bentley who, because of Internet exposure, garnered much attention for himself. I am always first and foremost amazed that someone can acquire such a following when their prophecies never come true, when they testify of obvious unbiblical experiences such as riding on a UFO or speaking to so-called “angels” which are obviously demonic, or doing miracles which are obvious frauds. (All of which and more pertain to Mr. Bentley.) I am even more perplexed, however, when it is obvious that such a person does not even live the minimum requirements expected of someone calling themselves “Christian”.
In this particular case, we would like to think that a convicted pedophile could be changed by a born-again experience, but then in the middle of his big “miracle crusade” he leaves his wife and children to run away with an assistant. He actually divorces his wife, marries the assistant, and in one of the most preposterous public displays I have ever seen, a group of likewise immoral and spiritually false self-proclaimed prophets and apostles “restores” him to ministry! Bentley is but one example in a very long line of false personalities who not only fail the test supernaturally but in the course of their everyday life. They are the very definition of “practicing lawlessness”.
I do not believe that these people in particular or most Christians in general understand Christ’s greater message here. Yes, it is a warning about false prophets and false teachers, but it establishes something far more important: faithfulness is what matters most. Christ does not equate a right relationship with Him as being what we can for Him, but by the degree to which we are obedient to His Word and ways. It is an extension of His teaching, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”. (Mt. 11:30) He will always take those who simply adhere to and put His Word into practice over those who forgo His Word and try to compensate with public shows of alleged greatness. Even if we were able to effect the greatest miracle or speak the most marvelous prophecy, it would never compensate for a lack of personal faithfulness. †††