We come to possibly the saddest aspect of all. It is possible, and it has occurred, that a genuine apostle might fall from grace, into backsliding and sin, and become a false apostle. the principle also applies to prophets, teachers, elders and to every believer.
The classic examples of this phenomena are those of Balaam the prophet in the Old Testament, and Judas the Apostle of the Lamb in the New. There is no question but that both of these were genuinely called and anointed servants of Christ, who ministered in His name and with His anointings.
Every word recorded in the Bible as prophecy from the prophet Balaam is exceptional and holy prophecy. None of it constitutes a false word. Every word is of the Spirit of God, and Balaam’s words are amongst the most beautiful and inspiring in all of scripture. For example, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it” (Numbers 23:19-20)
The witness of the Holy Spirit concerning the actual prophetic utterances of Balaam is this, “The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly, the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened” (Numbers 24:15-16). Nevertheless, he is considered the greatest, i.e. the worst and most evil, of the false prophets, such that he is the New Testament example of a false leader who loved the wages of wickedness.
Every word Balaam spoke was true, but the man became false. He caused Israel to sin, so that the curse that he was not able to pronounce by oracle (because his prophetic gift was so accurate and anointed by God), would come back upon God’s people.
We see then, that falsehood is not defined by the quality of the ministry, but by the heart of the minister. We also understand that when people present outwardly a good quality of ministry, this is not the proof of their righteousness or their walk with Christ.
Judas fell from what should have been a very secure position – next to Jesus himself. Satan also fell from such a position, close to the throne of God. It will do us good to remember that we are kept secure by a humble dependent heart, not by position in the ministry. The closer we get to God by means of revelation, experience, ministry anointing and the like, the more we need to always remember that we are on God’s Holy Mountain, and this is from where Satan fell.
Paul was conscious of the dangers of taking God for granted, and failing to press on in humble pursuit of our holy Saviour. “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). The word here translated ‘disqualified’ literally means “reprobate, unapproved, rejected as worthless”.