If a preacher performs a miracle is it evidence that the preacher is a true man of God? Would God really use a false teacher to perform His miracles or does God exclusively use genuine Christian believers to perform a miracle?
Jesus warned that one of the signs of the end times is that we would witness an increase in false miracles from false prophets and teachers.
In Matthew 24:24-25 Jesus says: “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.”
So from the words of Christ in Matthew 24:24 we can learn that it is possible for false teachers to perform “great signs and wonders”.
However the purpose of these “great signs and wonders” is to lead people astray. Jesus is also revealing to us that miracles are not always a sign that a person is a true man of God.
Jesus also taught that there will always be wolves in sheep’s clothing who will act religious and perform religious signs and activities but yet they are hypocrites (Matthew 7:15).
In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus said that not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord is a true Christian. Christ then states that on Judgment Day there will be false believers who will claim “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” but Christ will reply to them “I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Therefore it is possible that false teachers can perform miracles. However one must question the real source and origins of a false teacher’s miracles.
The Scriptures reveal a pattern that God only exclusively uses true believers to perform His signs and wonders.
However if a false teacher performs signs and wonders, then the origins of those miracles are most likely from another source and not from God.
For example, in Exodus 7:8-22 Pharaoh’s magicians were able to replicate some of the miracles that God performed when Moses came to demand the release of the Israelites (Exodus 7:11,22).
So while Moses was a true prophet of God who represented the one true God, the Egyptian magicians worshipped many gods and idols. So Pharaoh’s magicians sourced their power from demonic sources, and this is why they could copy some of the signs that God performed.
Exodus 7:10-11 says: So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts.
The engagement of witchcraft, divination, magic and sorcery are simply satanic attempts to create miracles or signs and wonders. Occultic powers are satan’s attempt to imitate God’s supernatural powers.
In Acts 8:9-24 is the story of Simon the Sorcerer. Simon practiced sorcery and magic to the extent that the people in Samaria thought he performed under the power and influence of God.
So the people of Samaria falsely concluded that Simon was a man of God because of the signs and wonders he performed.
Acts 8:10-12 says: They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because, for a long time, he had amazed them with his magic.
However, Simon’s signs and wonders were sourced from demons and not from God. Simon’s supernatural power deceived people into believing that he had the power of God, yet he had the power of satan.
How do False Teachers Get Their Power to Perform Signs & Wonders?
When a false teacher performs what appears to be a miracle, there are a few different sources or methods by which signs and wonders can be performed.
1. False teachers can source power from the occult
Just like Simon the Sorcerer or Pharoah’s magicians, a false teacher can source the power to perform signs and wonders directly through engaging in occult practices. Many false teachers within Christianity receive power to perform signs and wonders through practicing divination, witchcraft, sorcery and magic.
So as wolves in sheep’s clothing these false teachers come into the church and perform signs and wonders but under the power of satan with the objective of leading people astray and for personal gain.
Deuteronomy 18:10-12 says: There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a wizard or a necromancer, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord.
2. False teachers can create stage illusions and tricks disguised as “miracles”
Alternatively just like an illusionist or a stage performer, false teachers can perform stage illusions with the use of props and may involve the use of paid assistants to stage what appears to be a “miracle” from God but yet it is a deception meant to fool the congregation.
Stage illusions are large-scale magic tricks meant to fool or deceive our physical eyes. As the name implies, stage illusions are distinct from all other types of magic in that they are performed a considerable distance away from the audience or the congregation, usually on a stage, in order to maintain the illusion.
Stage illusions do not usually contain any supernatural involvement but mostly consist of the use of props, technology, gimmicks and the participation of paid individuals or assistants who are part of the stage illusion.
What are the Motives behind False Signs and Wonders?
1. To Lead People Astray
False miracles are part of the devil’s instruments in spiritual warfare. According to Jesus in Matthew 24:24, one of the motives of false signs and wonders is to lead people astray, including the elect if it were possible.
When false teachers perform signs and wonders, it is because they intend to deceive those who believe in their power. They intend to seduce people away from God and so that people follow man and satan who is the originator of the counterfeit miracle.
For example, when we read Acts 8:9-12 concerning Simon the Sorcerer, we learn some interesting things about the relationship between Simon the Sorcerer and his followers. We learn that:
- People had mistaken Simon’s magic for the power of God. They were deceived into believing that Simon was a man of God
- The people of Samaria adored Simon because he amazed them with his magic
- The Samaritans elevated Simon to the level of a “god” or “false christ” because of his sorcery. They called him “the power of God that is called Great”
- In verse 9 it says that Simon himself believed that he was somebody great. Therefore he had delusions of grandeur.
Today the relationship between Simon and his followers are the same traits and dynamics we witness between a modern day false teacher and his own followers.
2. For Power, Recognition & Money
Another reason why false teachers perform false miracles is for power and control over people. They also seek the admiration of people and of course for financial gain. Therefore false miracles will help to increase their following and membership and therefore help increase monetary contributions to their false ministries.
1 Timothy 6:5 talks about false teachers who perceive godliness as a means to get wealthy.
Signs and wonders are not evidence that a person is a man of God. It is important to learn to discern the difference between good and evil. We should never follow someone simply because they perform signs and wonders. Instead we must prayerfully discern and be watchful so that we are not deceived.