The spirit of Jannes and Jambres
Robert Wurtz II
Always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (2 Timothy 3:7–9 ESV)
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. (Matthew 7:21–23 ESV)
I chose these two passages to illustrate from the New Testament the alarming fact that many people in these last days consider themselves to be Spiritual but are influenced by, empowered by, and imitating the enemy. These verses imply that many people are greatly mistaken in regards to the supernatural. It is a classic case of observing gifts rather than fruits when discerning the legitimacy of a person. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16-20). Until we agree with Jesus on this point, we are wide open to deception.
Some people are deceived and are deceiving others, too (2 Timothy 3:13). Deceived people believe that if they or someone else operates in the supernatural, that fact alone guarantees that they are empowered and endorsed by God. Emphasizing power while disregarding the fruit of the Spirit opens the door to the demonic in the churches. Anyone who claims to operate in the supernatural better know what the source is and not just assume it is the Holy Spirit.
The late great Greek scholar A.T. Robertson commented on Matthew 7:21-23, saying, “They claim to have prophesied (preached) in Christ’s name and to have done many miracles. But Jesus will tear off the sheepskin and lay bare the ravening wolf. ‘I never knew you’ (oudepote egnoœn huœmaœs). ‘I was never acquainted with you’ (experimental knowledge).” Notice the emphasis on the word “never.” These people believed they were close to God, but Jesus will deny knowing them. Imagine the shock, disbelief, and utter sorrow they will feel.
Moving in the Demonic
In 2 Timothy 3:7-9, Paul used an illustration comparing Jannes and Jambres to deceivers in the last days. These two brothers used sorcery (demonic powers) to withstand Moses when he went before Pharaoh. They imitated many of Moses and Aaron’s miracles (Exodus 7:10-12, Exodus 7:22) using a drakon (or dragon or demon; See LXX on Exodus 7:11) to turn a staff into a snake. In the beginning verses of 2 Timothy 3, Paul warns Timothy that these types of men will have a form of godliness but deny its power. In other words, they make Christian claims and use Christian words and phrases, but there is no godly reality in their life. The comparison with Jannes and Jambres certainly brings in the element of demonic involvement.
One way to identify them is that they sneak into the lives of certain unmarried women who are vulnerable and gullible (2 Timothy 3:6). Often these women have a dark past and look to spiritual men to comfort them. Rather than operating a sexual relationship with them, the deceivers engage them in “Spiritual” things to create a bond and a dependency. Once certain women believe a man is “spiritual,” that man can exercise control over them. Deceivers frequently work to appear to be the most spiritual person around.
Faking the Gifts
Understand that the enemy has faked nearly all of the spiritual gifts and used those counterfeits to cause havoc in the churches. Nobody could genuinely cast out devils if Christ “never knew them” because that implies they operated without Him. We also know that Satan will not cast out Satan (Matthew 12:26). The only possibility is that the people believed they were casting out devils, but it was a make-believe situation. As we have already discovered, other miracles the enemy can certainly imitate and has been doing so since the times of Moses.
I have known numerous people who never gave a hint that they genuinely repented of their sins, turned from their wickedness, and took up their cross and yet claimed to be Spirit-filled. It is doubtful that they even understood what “Godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10), crying out to God in faith, and obedience (Acts 2:21, Acts 5:32)” even implies. They “received the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues,” and everyone around them praised God. But we need to ask a serious question. How can a person bypass repentance and speak in tongues and it be the Holy Spirit at work?
Pentecostals have long emphasized the role of tongues in receiving the Spirit — typically known as “initial evidence.” Unfortunately, in many cases, it is the only evidence. Where is the requisite proof of the fruit of the Spirit? It’s a lot easier to falsify tongues than to forge love, joy, peace, gentleness, self-control, etc. Many false religions have manifested ecstatic speech exercising their faith. In modern times, the enemy has passed off almost any gibberish or unintelligible utterances as proof that the person “received the Holy Ghost” and with disastrous consequences. People who never truly repented end up believing that they are not only saved but uniquely gifted and favored of God. It is a throwback to the story of Simon the Sorcerer.
Why will the people appeal to miracles as proof of their legitimacy at the Great Judgment? Because that’s what’s emphasized in these last days. They will argue their case with God based upon what they believed is empirical evidence, “(…) did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” Someone sold them on the idea that the supernatural is the defining proof of God’s acceptance.
They never realized that they were being indwelt and empowered by the enemy and not God until it was too late. Had they performed some honest self-examination and looked for fruits unto holiness, they may have discovered the problem, repented, and truly received the Spirit before the great judgment. Understand that nobody who is full of the Holy Spirit is anti-holiness.
I don’t want to die deceived, and I hope nobody else does. We have to determine today that we will stop trusting manifestations alone as evidence that we or anyone else received the Spirit. Do we care that people are going to die and go to Hell believing they are approved of God when they aren’t? That’s what we’re talking about in this article. Moreover, they are deceiving others at the same time. We need to ask, how are we living? How are we treating our neighbor? How are we treating fellow believers? Are we known for godliness and holiness? Are we generous? Do we love others, help others, and give ourselves to God? Or are we selfish? What about ministers? What is our reputation among the unbelievers? How do we treat fellow ministers?
Wolves in Sheep Clothing
If a person occasionally pulls their mask down to reveal a wolf underneath, mark that person and have no fellowship with them (2 Thessalonians 3:14). Don’t make excuses for behaviors that are unbecoming of Christ. Don’t be impressed just because a person appears to operate the supernatural. Examine their fruit.
Jannes and Jambres used a demon to enable them to look powerful so they could keep the people in bondage in Egypt. This is what the spirit of Jannes and Jambres wants. It will do whatever it takes to keep people bound in sin. People who are used by Satan in this way will be exposed eventually. Repentance is their only hope. If we find that quality in our own lives we need to come before the Lord in repentance and humility. Allow God to do the work while there is still hope. It will be too late when…
(…) that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. (Matthew 7:21–23 ESV)