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How can I recognize a genuine man of God?

(1) Compare his message and ministry to the Bible. See if what he has to say, lines up with scripture. God's Word is the foundation upon which every true man of God will base his life, ministry and message. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). Jesus said "...My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me" (John 7:16).

(2) Check to see if Jesus Christ is the center. Who does he attempt to lift up and glorify? Himself or Christ? A real man of God doesn't seek to promote himself, but seeks to glorify Christ in everything he does or says. "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him" (John 7:18). (See also 1 Cor. 12:3)

(3) Inspect his fruit. As we have said, the Bible says that we shall know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:16). Just like preachers, a lot of trees may look alike from a distance, but a close inspection of the fruit hidden among the branches will reveal their differences. Fruit is the natural product of a species which provides unmistakable identification.

If an alleged man of God is truly rooted in fellowship with Christ, he will obviously bear Christ-like fruit (John 15:4-5), not corrupt, immoral qualities. In Paul's epistle to the church of Galatia, he gave a description of the kind of spiritual fruit that should be a natural product in every believer whose life is in harmony with Christ, and contrasted this with the bad fruit of the works of the flesh:

Works of the Flesh
Gal. 5:19 "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness,
5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
5:21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Fruit of the Spirit
Gal. 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."
Persons who exhibit the works of the flesh are what we call "led by the flesh," and those who bear the fruit of the Spirit are "led by the Spirit." When we speak of "led," we refer to that nature which we choose to follow, whether the Spirit of Christ or the rebellious flesh.

How important it is that every Christian is genuinely led by the Spirit — but even more so for spiritual leaders, as it is the Holy Spirit which also leads us unto all truth (John 16:13). If any spiritual leader does not bear spiritual fruit, he is not genuinely led by the Spirit of God, and if not led by God's Spirit, neither can we risk that his teachings, ministry, or alleged revelations are led of God's Spirit either! Jesus gave us this fruit test to protect us from deceivers. "You will know them by their fruits..." (Matt. 7:16).

It is clear that any preacher or purported man of God who exhibits the immoral works of the flesh is definitely not led by God's Spirit. Furthermore, this lifestyle pattern is evidence of an absence of a personal relationship with God, as it states bluntly that "those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:21).

It is biblical and necessary for Christians to examine the fruit of their leaders. However, exercise caution. "Fruit inspection" is not meant to be the same thing as fault finding. Examination of fruit should be confined to spiritual standards necessary for leadership, not every little personality trait, habit, or preference. Constant criticism and finding fault must be avoided, lest we discourage our godly leaders and find ourselves serving the purpose of the Devil as an "accuser of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10).

This article is from the book, What People Ask About the Church, authored and copyrighted © by Dr. Dale A. Robbins, 1990-2015, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA - Nashville, TN. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982. You may download this article for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple permission form. Many of our writings are also available as free pdf tri-fold pamphlets, which can be downloaded for reproduction from our Online Catalog. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain quantities of this title in other formats, email us.