Over the years I have seen countless Christians fooled by so-called ministers because said ministers have an “anointing” on their life. Some of these anointed leaders move in signs and wonders, are great motivational speakers, have fundraisers, and even have the amazing ability to influence thousands and build huge edifices to house their ministries.

Unfortunately, the body of Christ has little discernment when it comes to those in the public eye. They believe that just because a person is affirmed by men they are affirmed by God. They believe that just because a person has an influential platform that God’s favor rests upon them. They fail to realize that people are anointed by the Holy Spirit to perform a particular function — which does not always indicate the affirmation of God upon their life.

Nevertheless, confusion arises because the saints of God fail to distinguish between a grace gift to perform a task and internal integrity and holiness. Just because a person is gifted does not mean they are utilizing their gifts for the glory of God, also just because a person is anointed does not mean you should trust them or consider them a man or woman of God.

Paul said that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light who works through false apostles and deceitful workers who disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness (see 2 Corinthians. 11:13-15).

Jesus said that you can discern false prophets from true prophets by their fruit (Matthew 7:16), meaning one should notice what is their track record in life and ministry and are they walking in holiness towards others? (See the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23.)

Furthermore, the Bible says that it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7); hence, if somebody doesn’t fear the Lord (which is to hate evil according to Proverbs 8:13) then they are not living according to the knowledge and wisdom of God, which makes everything they do suspect.

Unfortunately, Scripture, as well as contemporary events, are replete with examples of people who were powerfully anointed and yet failed to walk in holiness. How is this possible? One possible answer is that the anointing of God is primarily given to perform a task — not to denote godly character, which means a person can use the anointing and gifts of God to perform a task for the wrong reason because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29).

While I have observed that often the true, indelible anointing of God begins to dissipate when a person falls away from the Lord – it is also true that some leaders (perhaps not yet fully backslidden?) began to utilize their anointing to seduce others as well as to garner influence to build their own kingdom instead of God’s Kingdom. (I admit that I do not fully understand how and why all this happens?)

The following are biblical examples that illustrate why anointing does not always equal divine favor:

1. Jesus had the favor of God before He performed any miracles or ministry

While the Bible says that Jesus was attested by God the Father to people with powerful works, signs, and wonders (see Acts 2:22), we also know that Jesus walked in holiness before men. There was no guile found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22); He was holy, innocent, undefiled and separate from sinners (Hebrews 7:26) and even lived a life without sin (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Consequently, even before Jesus performed any miracles or healed under the anointing (see Acts 10:38) the Father was already well pleased with Him because of the life of obedience and intimacy He lived unto the Father (see Luke 3:22).

My first pastor always taught his leaders to always build our life upon the foundation of our character instead of upon our gifts and abilities.

Woe to the person whose character has not matured enough to center their vast gifts, abilities, and influential platform.

2. The children of Israel experienced more miracles in the desert than in the promised land

Just a casual walk through the book of Numbers, Exodus, and Deuteronomy shows us that Israel experienced the most miracles in their history during their rebellious sojourn in the wilderness. They witnessed the Red Sea parting in half to escape their enemies, were guided supernaturally at night by a pillar of Fire, during the day by the cloud of Glory, were fed daily the manna from heaven, drank water out of a rock, and yet, still fell continually into sin and disobedience (see Hebrews 3:16-19).

This, thus, powerfully illustrates that just because a church, ministry, or leader experiences a lot of supernatural miracles does not necessarily mean they are walking in holiness and obedience to the Lord. (It can solely be because of His great love and mercy!)

As a matter of fact – the people of God experienced less miracles after they came into the the Promised Land because the manna from heaven ceased when they were expected to till the land for their sustenance (see Joshua 5:12).

3. Many anointed to prophesy and cast out demons are not intimate with God

Jesus warned us that on the Day of Judgment many will say to Him that they cast out demons in His name, prophesied, and worked miracles, but He will cast them from His presence because He never knew them! (See Matthew 7:21-23.) Hence, it is a clear as “tar on snow” that doing miracles in His name doesn’t always correspond to holiness and intimacy with Jesus.

4. God tests the church with miracle workers who are false prophets

The following passages in Deuteronomy 13:1-4, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 , and Revelation 13:13-15 clearly demonstrate that at times, God grants false leaders the ability to perform miracles to test the hearts of people. Thus, if a person performs a miracle but also advocates a lifestyle antithetical to worshipping and serving the One True God — or is fleecing and or seducing the sheep, then God expects His people to flee from these so-called “wonder workers”, irrespective of their anointing and vast influence!

Paul even went so far as to say that if we or an angel from heaven preach a different gospel from the one he received from Jesus, let them be eternally condemned! (This passage in Galatians 1:8,9 also leaves the door open to false angelic visitations like the one the false prophet Joseph Smith received from the angel Moroni related to the Book of Mormon which launched of the Church of the Latter Day Saints around the year 1830.)

5. Balaam, Samson, David, and Judas Iscariot were all anointed of God while in sin

The book of Numbers chapters 22-25 show that although Balaam had an anointing from God to speak for Him and prophesy (see Numbers 22:12) he also used his gift for divination (see 24:1) and eventually his evil heart was exposed (22:32) and he showed the Moabite King Barak how to defeat God’s people by seducing them with Moabite women (see also Revelation 2:14).

We all know the unfortunate story of Samson (see Judges chapters 13-16) and how, although he was anointed with super human strength to defeat God’s adversaries, he also lived a carnal, narcissistic life replete with sexual sin (see 16:1).

David, the great, anointed king of Israel, also fell into sexual sin and even murdered a man when his sin resulted in a pregnancy (see 2nd Samuel 11,12).

Thankfully, David, as a man after God’s heart, came back to his senses and offered God true repentance, as is recorded in the profound, deep, Psalm 51.

Judas Iscariot’s heart and motives were not right from the beginning, according to Jesus (see John 17:12 where Jesus actually called Judas the son of perdition!). In spite of this, Judas was anointed by God to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, and raise the dead! Along with the original 12 apostles of the Lamb, he performed more miracles than most evangelists and saints in all of recorded human history — even though he was the betrayer of Jesus; this is mind blowing to me! (See Matthew 10:1-8.)

6. Many recent ministers were living in sin while preaching and healing under the anointing

Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with several of the evangelists in the popular “voice of healing movement” in the 1950s who were powerfully anointed while being intoxicated or living less than stellar lives.

In the 1980s it was revealed that two popular, anointed television evangelists (one was one of our generation’s greatest preachers!) were living sexually immoral lives. Irrespective of this immorality and deception, prior to getting exposed these evangelists were still popular (and looked blessed of God!) and at least one of these evangelists was still powerfully anointed when he preached.

Of course, scandals of this sort have become all too common place in the evangelical church and it has confused many saints and even caused many to fall away from God.

When I was a new believer and wondering about how and why God still anointed people ministering for Him even while they were living in sin, I sensed the Lord show me that He anointed them for the sake of the genuine believers who used their faith to believe Him for a miracle. Hence, the anointing and working of miracles were not an affirmation of the preacher but of the faith of the recipient of the miracles.

This is why the psalmist said that God exalts His word above His name (Psalm 138:2) Consequently, when we believe God’s word coming from a proclaimer of the truth, God honors our faith irrespective of the life of the messenger!

May God help the readers of this article receive more godly wisdom and discernment related to who they follow, financially support, and align themselves with. And may all the leaders in the body of Christ, irrespective of how much popularity and influence they have, be accountable to other spiritual leaders who help oversee their life and ministry.

In light of the above, we know that a leader may already be a train wreck in the making if they do not have proper spiritual oversight, accountability, and people surrounding them that speak honestly into their life.

Purchase Joseph Mattera’s latest book, “The Jesus Principles”, available now on Amazon here.

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