False Prophets: A Study in the Scriptures
“You may be asking yourselves, “How can we tell if a prophet’s message really comes from the Lord?” ”
–Deuteronomy 18:21 CEV Contemporary English Version
From the book: The Holy Spirit: Gifts & Ministries
by Diane S. Dew, © copyright 1976, 1998.
For more by Dew, see: http://dianedew.com/index.shtml
I. Not every prophecy is of God (I Kings 13:18), “because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Jeremiah 28:11, 15-17; Matthew 24:11, 24 (Mark 13:22); Luke 6:26; Acts 13:6; 2 Peter 2:1; I John 4:1-3; Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10
A. “They speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They … have perverted the words of the living God.” Jeremiah 23:16, 36
B. They are not ordained of God, but are self-appointed. Jeremiah 14:14-15; 23:16-17, 21 (“I sent them not”); Ezekiel 13:6; Revelation 2:20
C. They may be speaking under the influence of a lying spirit (2 Chronicles 18:21), or presumptuously (Deuteronomy 18:20), from “the deceit of their own heart.” Jeremiah 14:14; 23:16, 17, 21, 26; Ezekiel 13:17
D. They speak lies (Jeremiah 23:25, 26, 32; 20:6; 29:31; Isaiah 9:15; Micah 2:11; Zechariah 13:3), and in the name of the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:20; Jeremiah 14:14, 15; 23:25; Matthew 7:22).
E. They speak soothing words to those in spiritual darkness and give false security to those who deserve rebuke. Jeremiah 23:16-17; Lamentations 2:14; Luke 6:26; John 15:19
F. Sometimes they are even hired to do their work! Nehemiah 6:12, 13; Micah 3:11
G. Their punishment under the law was death. Deuteronomy 13:5; 18:20; Jeremiah 28:15-17; 29:31-32; Zechariah 13:3
II. How can we distinguish the true from the false?
A. Any ministry that does not exalt Jesus (Revelation 19:10) and His Lordship (Mark 9:39; I Corinthians 12:3; I John 4:1-3) is not God-ordained.
B. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:15-20
C. No true prophecy will contradict the written Word of God. Isaiah 8:20
D. It must agree with the previously spoken and revealed will of God. I Kings 13
E. A prophet is recognized as true when the word he has spoken comes to pass. If it doesn’t, it was not the word of the Lord. Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:21-22; Jeremiah 28:9
F. The source of a ministry cannot be determined merely by signs of the miraculous (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). Satan can perform lying signs and wonders. Exodus 7:11; 8:17-19; 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 11, 12; Revelation 13:13, 14
G. If the person entices people to follow after another God (Revelation 13:1-5), or speaks of another Savior, another Spirit, or another gospel, he is not sent by God (2 Corinthians 11:4).
Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers….Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.
Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves. .
Matthew 7: 21-23
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Matthew 24: v 4-5
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Mark 13: v 21-23
And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Romans 16: v 17-18
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
Galatians 1: 8-10
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
1 John 4:1
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Peter 2:1-3
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
2 Peter 2:18
For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
2 Timothy 3:1-7
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 4:2-5
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.
Colossians 2:18-19 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Ezekiel 13:8-9 “…Because you have spoken vain things, and have seen lies,
therefore behold I come against you, said the Lord GOD.
And My hand shall be upon the prophets that see vain things,
and that divine lies.”
Jeremiah 29:8-9 “Let not your prophets that are in the midst of you,
and your diviners deceive you…
for they prophesy falsely to you in My name, and I have NOT sent them,
said the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not,
nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken,
but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously.”
“And The Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in My Name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.” (Jeremiah 14:14 RSV)
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.
1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee
Eph 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
“Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles false and misleading” (Lamentations 2:14 RSV)
“And her prophets have daubed for them with whitewash, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when The Lord has not spoken.” (Ezekiel 22:28 RSV)
So, how do we protect ourselves?
Don’t Believe Anyone Who Ignores, Or Disagrees With, God’s Word. About 30 years ago, I recall hearing a preacher bellowing, “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible.” The honest logic of that man’s statement cannot be refuted or argued with. Humans can be, or go, wrong. God’s Word will never fail you, because God will never fail you.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:33)
Prove All Things
Never just take someone’s word as “gospel,” regardless of how educated or exalted they may be, or appear to be. True Christian servants (“minister” means servant, “apostle” means messenger, “evangelist” means announcer) are not offended if you check to see if what they say is correct, or question them if you find something that you think is wrong. In fact, they expect you to do so:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 RSV)
“test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 RSV)
Know Your Bible Read or listen to an audio version of it as much as you can
Follow Christ, Obey God. God’s true servants want you to obey God, not them.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” (1 Peter 2:21 RSV)
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ … and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3 RSV)
2 Thessalonians Chapter 2
9 the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie,
10 and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved.
11 Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie,
12 that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.
13 But we ought to give thanks to God for you always, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in truth.
14 To this end he has (also) called you through our gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace,
17 encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.
While in the end time God’s true prophets will perform great miracles there will also be great Satan-empowered “miracles” which will deceive many:
“It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men; and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived” (Revelation 13:13-14 RSV)
“Prophet” Doesn’t Mean “Profit”
Money is of course necessary to pay for living and operating expenses, but acquiring great personal wealth from one’s service to God cannot be justified. There are many honest and righteous ways of earning a lot of money. Christianity is not one of them.
In the Old Testament, Abraham was considered righteous by God (Galatians 3:6), and at the same time he became very wealthy (Genesis 13:2). But his personal wealth came from business activity. It wasn’t given to Abraham as a way of worshipping God.
Later, the apostle Paul, a man who actually wrote a large part of the New Testament, although having to accept occasion help because of his difficult circumstances, worked whenever he could, as a tent maker, at the same time of his ministry (Acts 18:3). According to Paul, “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:17 RSV)
God’s true servants are not interested in taking from you. They want to give to you, not worldly money that is quickly spent, but true wealth, the knowledge and understanding that will enable you to obtain the eternal spiritual riches that will last forever. God’s true servants don’t want your money. They want you to obey God.
Fact Finder: What will be the fate of The Great False Prophet, and all of the lesser false prophets, at The Return Of Jesus Christ? Great false prophet – Revelation 19:20. The rest of the false prophets – Revelation 19:21
Here is a scripture that is commonly taken out of context by followers of false teachers in their defense:
2 Peter 2:11:
Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings;
11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful,
do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.
The scripture above is talking about false prophets slandering angels and that even the angels in Heaven don’t talk about these slanderous accusations against the slandered angels in front of the Lord. This scripture is often taken out of context and used as a defense that we are not to judge such false teachers because the angels do not.
This scripture is in reference to false prophets slander against angels. But the angels in Heaven don’t even slander against these angels in front of the Lord that this false teacher has slandered.
False Prophets: A Study in the Scriptures; From the book: The Holy Spirit: Gifts & Ministries,
by Diane S. Dew, © copyright 1976, 1998.
For more by Dew, see: http://dianedew.com/index.shtml
Isaiah 44:24-26: 24
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,
“I, the LORD, am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone,
25 Causing the omens of boasters to fail, Making fools out of diviners,
Causing wise men to draw back And turning their knowledge into foolishness,
26 Confirming the word of His servant And performing the purpose of His message.
The Heresy of False Teacher John Pavlovitz (a response to “10 Things This Christian Doesn’t Believe About the Bible”), by Pastor Gabe Hughes. From his site: