Jas 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
2Co 11:14-15 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (15) So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
More than once I have spoken with domestic abuse victims whose abuser spouse was a pastor or missionary or some other “Christian” worker. And not only so, but an able preacher whose sermons seemed to edify the church and lead people to Christ! Recently Todd Wilhelm posted a letter from a fellow who had been a member of the notorious Tom Chantry’s church (Chantry you will recall is a convicted serial child molester who abused and molested children in the church he pastored). This man said:
Thomas Chantry had the ability to exposit and make Scripture come alive. I learned much from his preaching and consider him one of the best preachers I have ever heard. That ability is what fooled many, including myself.
There were other signs however that served as warnings about Chantry’s true character but it would be years before he was fully exposed for what he is.
The Lord Jesus said:
Mat 7:16-20 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (17) So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. (18) A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. (19) Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (20) Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
In other words, a person can speak with the seeming tongue of an angel, but if he does not have love, he is not of Christ. There will always be signs and marks that betray who a person really is, in spite of the fine sermons he preaches or the amazing books he writes. And of course, hidden even within those sermons and words there will be the leaven of a false gospel. The Jesus they profess to declare is another Jesus.
The wicked use their false gifts (spiritual gifts can be counterfeited) to deceive and to bring praise and gain to themselves. Their goal is to enslave Christ’s people and this necessarily requires that they draw the flock away from the true Shepherd.
You will know them by their fruits, in spite of their seemingly glorious words. If, for example, a man is wickedly abusing is wife, his fruit is bad and HE is bad. Even if he is a man many regard as a fine preacher and his ability is apparently furthering the kingdom of God, that man is darkness and all those results are founded on sand, destined to come crumbling down. Think, for instance of what is going to happen to the faith of those who professed Christ under the wolf’s ministry on the day when the wolf’s disguise is pulled away.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing is a wolf, no matter how apparently perfect the disguise. In fact, the man who stands in the pulpit week after week, preaching sermons that appear to be building up the church, yet who in reality is a servant of the devil, is the most evil of the evil. And the Lord, on that Day, will deal with him as such.