For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NIV
Con artists! They abound in the world today, like they always have. All too many of them have found their niche within the church, duping the unwary. These men, and sometimes women, are false apostles, deceitful workers, masqueraders, or servants of Satan. Overall, they have an outward appearance of righteousness and easily deceive the undiscerning.
There are a couple of ways to recognize these masqueraders. First, examine the gospel they proclaim. Is it solidly based on the Bible? Or do they only cherry pick from it, frequently expressing a new revelation that God has given to them (Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Cor. 11:4). You should run from these ‘preachers’.
A second way to recognize these servants of Satan is to examine their focus; who is at the center of their ‘ministry’. Are they focusing on the crucified and resurrected Christ? Or does the focus seem to center on them and their ‘ministry’ (2 Cor. 11:12)? You should be very cautious of those who talk about themselves and their work more than they do about Christ and his work.
In the letter to the Ephesian church in Revelation, Jesus commends the church for testing and rejecting these false apostles. “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false (Rev. 2:2).” Maybe we should follow their example.