3. What is a false leader or false shepherd? How can a false leader or false shepherd be identified?
Relevant Words of God:
The work of a qualified worker can bring people to the right way and grant them greater entry into the truth. His work can bring people before God. In addition, the work he does can vary from individual to individual and is not bound by rules, allowing people liberation and freedom, and the capacity gradually to grow in life and to have a more profound entry into the truth. The work of an unqualified worker falls far short. His work is foolish. He can only bring people into rules, and what he demands of people does not vary from individual to individual; he does not work according to people’s actual needs. In this type of work, there are too many rules and too many doctrines, and it cannot bring people into reality, nor into normal practice of growth in life. It can only enable people to adhere to a few worthless rules. Such guidance can only lead people astray. He leads you to become like him; he can bring you into what he has and is. For followers to discern whether leaders are qualified, the key is to look at the path on which they lead and the results of their work, and to see whether followers receive principles in accordance with the truth, and whether they receive ways of practice suitable for their transformation. You should distinguish between the different work of different types of people; you should not be a foolish follower. This bears on the matter of people’s entry. If you are unable to distinguish which person’s leadership has a path and which does not, you will easily be deceived. All of this has a direct bearing on your own life.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Work in the mind of man is too easy for man to achieve. Pastors and leaders in the religious world, for example, rely on their gifts and positions to do their work. People who follow them for a long time will be infected by their gifts and influenced by some of their being. They focus on people’s gifts, abilities and knowledge, and they pay attention to supernatural things and many profound, unrealistic doctrines (of course, these profound doctrines are unattainable). They do not focus on changes in people’s dispositions, but rather on training people to preach and work, improving people’s knowledge and their abundant religious doctrines. They do not focus on how much people’s disposition is changed nor on how much people understand of the truth. They do not concern themselves with people’s essence, and much less do they try to know people’s normal and abnormal states. They do not counter people’s notions, nor do they reveal their notions, much less do they prune people for their deficiencies or corruptions. Most who follow them serve with their gifts, and all they release is religious notions and theological theories, which are out of touch with reality and completely unable to confer life onto people. In fact, the essence of their work is nurturing talent, nurturing a person with nothing into a talented seminary graduate who later goes on to work and lead.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
As leaders and workers in the church, if you want to lead God’s chosen people into truth reality and to serve as God’s witnesses, most importantly, you must have a deeper understanding of God’s aim in saving people and the purpose of His work. You must understand the will of God and His various requirements of people. You must be practical in your efforts; practice only as much as you understand and communicate only on that which you know. Do not boast, do not exaggerate, and do not make irresponsible remarks. If you exaggerate, people will detest you and you will feel reproached afterward; this is just too inappropriate. When you provide the truth to others, you don’t necessarily have to deal with them and scold them in order for them to attain the truth. If you yourself don’t have the truth and only deal with and scold others, they will fear you, but that doesn’t mean they understand the truth. In some administrative work, it’s fine for you to deal with and prune others and discipline them to a certain degree. But if you cannot provide the truth and know only how to be overbearing and to chide others, your corruption and ugliness will be revealed. With the passage of time, as people are unable to obtain the provision of life or practical things from you, they will come to detest you and feel disgusted by you. Those who lack discernment will learn negative things from you; they will learn to deal with and prune others, to get angry, and to lose their temper. Isn’t that tantamount to leading others onto the path of Paul, onto a path toward perdition? Is that not an evildoing? Your work should focus on communicating the truth and providing life to others. If all you do is blindly deal with and lecture others, how will they ever understand the truth? As time goes by, people will see you for who you really are, and they will abandon you. How can you expect to bring others before God in this way? How is this doing the work? You will lose everyone if you keep working in this way. What work do you hope to accomplish anyway? Some leaders are incapable of communicating the truth to resolve problems. Instead, they just blindly deal with others and flaunt their power so that others come to fear them and obey them—such people are of the false leaders and antichrists. Those whose disposition has not changed are incapable of performing church work, and are unable to serve God.
Excerpted from “Only Those With the Reality of the Truth Can Lead” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Many people behind My back covet the blessing of status, they gorge themselves on food, they love to sleep and give every care to the flesh, always afraid that there is no way out for the flesh. They do not perform their proper function in the church, but freeload off the church, or else they admonish their brothers and sisters with My words, lording themselves over others from positions of authority. These people keep saying they are doing God’s will and always say they are God’s intimates—is this not absurd? If you have the right intentions, but are unable to serve in accordance with God’s will, then you are being foolish; but if your intentions are not right, and you still say you serve God, then you are someone who opposes God, and you ought to be punished by God! I have no sympathy for such people! In the house of God, they freeload, always coveting the comforts of the flesh, and give no consideration to the interests of God. They always seek what is good for them, and they pay no heed to God’s will. They do not accept the scrutiny of God’s Spirit in anything they do. They are always maneuvering and deceiving their brothers and sisters, and being two-faced, like a fox in a vineyard, always stealing grapes and trampling over the vineyard. Could such people be God’s intimates? Are you fit to receive God’s blessings? You take no burden for your life and the church, are you fit to receive God’s commission? Who would dare trust someone like you? When you serve like this, could God dare to entrust you with a greater task? Would this not cause delays to the work?
Excerpted from “How to Serve in Harmony With God’s Will” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If antichrists are allowed to run amok in a church, given free rein to cry whatever slogans and arguments they wish in order to control, threaten, deceive, or mislead the brothers and sisters, and the leaders do nothing, being without discernment and incapable of promptly exposing these antichrists and getting them under control, leading to the brothers and sisters being manipulated and disturbed by the antichrists at will, then the leaders of this church are garbage. If the antichrists and wicked ones in a church are spurned and abhorred by the brothers and sisters, if they are shackled within the church, and everyone has discernment over them, such that their speech and empty slogans that mislead and deceive the brothers and sisters do not work in the church and they are held in check, locked down, then this church’s leaders are up to standard; they are leaders possessed of truth reality. If a church is being disrupted by an antichrist, and, after being identified and rejected by the brothers and sisters, the antichrist takes revenge by oppressing and abusing the brothers and sisters, then the leaders of this church are garbage, and should be eliminated. As leaders of a church, if they are incapable of solving problems using the truth, if they cannot identify, control, and limit the antichrists’ waywardness in the church, are unable to protect brothers and sisters and protect them so that they can perform their duties normally, and are unable to maintain the normal execution of the work of the house of God, then the leaders of this church are garbage, and should be eliminated. If the leaders of a church are afraid to approach or provoke an antichrist because the antichrist is ferocious and cruel, and thus allow that antichrist to run wild in the church, becoming a tyrant, doing whatever they want, and paralyzing and bringing to a standstill much of the work of the house of God, then the leaders of this church are garbage, and should be eliminated. If, because of fear of retribution, the leaders of a church never have the courage to expose an antichrist, and never try to limit that antichrist’s evil acts, thereby causing disruption to the church life, and greatly hindering and damaging the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life, then the leaders of this church are garbage, and should be eliminated.
Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (16)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Some people only arm themselves with certain truths for emergencies or to forsake themselves and help others, and not to solve their own troubles; we call them “selfless people.” They regard others as puppets of the truth and themselves as its masters, teaching others to hold fast to the truth and not to be passive, while they themselves remain as spectators on the sidelines. What kind of people are these? They arm themselves with some words of truth but merely use them to lecture others, while doing nothing at all to keep from meeting their own destruction. How pathetic! If their words can help others, then why can they not help themselves? We should label them as hypocrites who have no reality. They supply words of truth to others and ask others to put them into practice, while making no effort to practice them themselves. Are they not despicable? They themselves clearly cannot do it, yet they force others to put the words of truth into practice—what a cruel method this is! They are not using reality to help others; they are not using love to provide for others. They are simply deceiving and harming people. If this continues, with each person passing the words of truth onto the next, then will this not end up with everyone merely speaking the words of truth while being incapable themselves of putting it into practice? How can such people change? They do not recognize their own problems at all; how can there be a path forward for them?
Excerpted from “Those Who Love the Truth Have a Path Forward” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Some people work and preach and, despite superficially appearing to be fellowshiping on God’s utterances, they are only discussing the literal meaning of His words, and nothing essential is mentioned. Their sermons are like teachings from a language textbook—arranged item by item and aspect by aspect, and when they are done, everyone sings praises, saying, “This person possesses reality. He preached so well and in such detail.” After such people are done preaching, they tell others to compile their sermons and send them out to everybody. In doing this, they have gotten to where they are deceiving others and all that they preach are fallacies. On the surface, it looks as though they are preaching only God’s words and their sermons conform to the truth. However, with more careful discernment, you will see that they are nothing but letters and doctrines and false reasoning along with some human imaginings and notions, as well as some things that delimit God. Does this kind of preaching not amount to an interruption of God’s work? This is service that resists God.
Excerpted from “Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Your knowledge can only provide for people for a certain period of time. As time goes on, if you keep saying the same things, some people will discern that; they’ll say you’re too superficial, too lacking in depth. You’ll have no option but to try and deceive people by preaching on doctrines. If you always carry on like this, those below you will follow your methods, steps, and model of faith and of experiencing and putting into practice those words and doctrines. Ultimately, as you keep on preaching and preaching, they’ll all come to use you as an exemplar. In your leadership of others you speak of doctrines, so those below you will learn doctrines from you, and as things progress you will have taken the wrong path. Those below you will take whatever path you do; they will all learn from you and follow you, so you will feel: “I am powerful now; so many people listen to me, and the church is at my beck and call.” This nature of betrayal within man unconsciously makes you turn God into a mere figurehead, and you yourself then form some sort of denomination. How do various denominations arise? They arise in this way. Look at the leaders of each denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, and their interpretations of the Bible lack context and are guided by their own imaginings. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they could not preach at all, would people follow them? They do, after all, possess some knowledge and can preach on some doctrine, or they know how to win others over and make use of some artifice. They use these to bring people before themselves and deceive them. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality, they follow their leaders. When they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, “We have to consult our leader about our faith.” A human is the medium of their faith in God; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way?
Excerpted from “Only to Pursue the Truth Is Truly to Believe in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks