We have been hearing on the news and on the radio about the prophet who claimed the world would end yesterday at 6:00. It was a big deal, I saw it on FOX news, CNN, heard it on 2 different Christian radio stations. Sadly, what I heard was people joking about it, making it seem like the man was a kook. In reality, he is a man deceived and deceiving others. There are reports of men, women and children carrying signs and proclaiming what this man said as truth. Sad and dangerous for the church and for Christians around the world. As Christianity continues to take a beating in the media and Christians are persecuted around the world, false prophets make it that much more difficult to stand up for our faith and not allow these so called prophets the opportunity to drag more people away from the beliefs taught to us by God through His word.
It is a good thing that God explains false prophets, true prophets and how to discern the false from the true. First of all, what is a prophet?
- one who utters divinely inspired revelations: as a often capitalized : the writer of one of the prophetic books of the Bible b capitalized : one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of God’s will <Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah>
- one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight; especially : an inspired poet
- one who foretells future events : PREDICTOR
- an effective or leading spokesman for a cause, doctrine, or group
- Christian Science a : a spiritual seer b: disappearance of material sense before the conscious facts of spiritual Truth
Seems that there are a lot of different descriptions for a prophet, not so for God.
1 John 4:1-6 (NIV)
1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in youis greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
So John tells us how to recognize the spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. Unfortunately, there are many people who have been deceived by false prophets, including the prophets themselves. New Age churches, Spiritualism, Spiritualists, many of whom started out as bible believing Christians but have been deceived. There are a number of “Prophets” in the church today that claim to speak to the spirits of the dead. We know from scripture that this can absolutely happen. Saul called up the spirit of Samuel and was rebuked by it. I’ve read that these Spiritualists claim that it is scriptural because Christ spoke with Moses and Elijah so now it’s ok for us to speak to spirits. God’s word says differently.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (NIV)
1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
God knows that there will be false prophets, His word tells us that they will foretell true events, they will show signs and wonders (Revelations tells of the anti-christ and his prophet performing amazing things and deceiving the world.) Here’s the problem: Satan is smart, he knows that if he can get us to believe a little, he can twist God’s word ever so slightly and make us believe in almost anything. Isaiah talks about people who speak to spirits.
Isaiah 8:18-22 (NIV)
18 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. 19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter,should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.
So speaking to spirits is not scriptural because we must take into account the entire cannon of scripture and not just pick it apart to suit our purposes. Satan picked out excellent scripture to tempt Christ in the desert, we must understand that demons know the bible better than we do. Christ also warns us to be vigilant and to watch for false teachings, He knows that the church will be tested and that many will be led astray.
Matthew 7:15-23 (NIV)
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day,‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Satan is the great deceiver, he wants to lead us astray and he continues to use the words of God to do so. He did the same thing in the Garden of Eden that he continues to do today: twisting God’s word ever so slightly so that it appears that what he says is the truth. What that produces in us is death. We want to hear things that make us feel good, we want to think that everything is going to be alright.
Lamentations 2:14 (ESV)
14 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
that are false and misleading.
The one good thing about the abundance of false prophets is this: according to God’s word, this has to happen before Christ comes back.
Matthew 24:11-14 (KJV)
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Matthew 24:23-27 (KJV)
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Matthew 24 describes to us the danger false prophets really bring. Every time we see on the news that another prophet has claimed that the end of the world is coming, every time it doesn’t happen, Christianity takes another hit. More and more people think that Christianity is antiquated and has no purpose in the modern world, and these false prophets fuel this belief and drive more people away from the church.
So what do we do about it? We stand up, we declare the truth, we read scripture and test the spirits. We point out the false prophets and don’t allow them to continue without correction, even if we are only correcting their statements to our own family. We must be vigilant. Peter talks about scripture and how sometimes it is difficult to understand, but not to be deceived.
2 Peter 3:15-18 (NIV)
15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
In conclusion: be prepared, be observant, be thoughtful, be patient, but above all: test the spirits. If a man says he is a prophet and his entire message does not follow the word of God, then he is a false prophet and has been deceived. Remember that Satan only needs for you to doubt the word of God a little to drag you into everlasting condemnation with him.