False Prophets

There are many today who either self-claim or are proclaimed by others to be a prophet.

Whether a person self-claims or is proclaimed by others to be a prophet is of no consequence. A prophet is anyone who claims to speak a word on behalf of or coming directly from God. This is distinguished from someone claiming to “believe” the Holy Spirit is directing them to do something.

The Apostle John warned believers not to believe every spirit. By this he means, do not believe every person who claims to hear directly from God. You must test it to see to it that it conforms to the Word of God. Anything that contradicts the Word of God is false.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. –1John 4:1 (ESV)

In the book of Acts, Luke provides a story where a particular slave had a spirit of divination where she made her masters significant money through fortune telling. There is nothing in the story that indicates the information was fake. Some sort of spirit inhabited her enabling her to do as she did. A person may be able to predict certain things and some things may come to pass, but for this very reason we must test the spirit to see whether it truly is from God.

The test for any prophecy is actually quite simple. There isn’t anything given to us in the New Testament about the contents of the test, but we do have information in the Old Testament. Let’s read from Deuteronomy 18:20-22:

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. –Deuteronomy 18:20-22 (ESV)

If someone speaks a prophetic word that they claim came from God and the prophecy does not come to pass, then this person is a false prophet.

God placed no conditional arguments upon this test. Either a) the prophecy comes true or b) the prophecy does not. This must happen 100% of the time. If someone claims to get prophetic words right 70, 80 or 90 percent of the time, they are a false prophet.

The Great Warning

Read carefully Jesus warnings about those who prophecy, cast out demons and perform miracles…

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 7:22-23 (ESV)

For false Christ’s and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. –Mark 13:22 (ESV)

How Do We Handle a False Prophet

For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. –Jeremiah 29:8-9 (ESV)

Answer: Separate yourself from them.

Can a Person Believe They Are Hearing From God?

Not all false prophets due so with ill intent. A person may “believe” they are hearing something directly from God, but it is entirely possible that it is simply coming from their own minds.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. –Jeremiah 23:16 (ESV)

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 (ESV)

Sometimes a False Prophet is Someone Being Punished

And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. –Ezekiel 14:9 (ESV)

This passage may be difficult for us to accept, but it is in God’s word and thus happens or at least has happened in the past.

Final Thoughts

Consider the following when hearing from someone claiming to be receiving direct or personal revelation.

  1. If personal, private revelation contradicts scripture – it is false.
  2. If the prophetic word does not come to pass precisely as it is given or precisely within the timetable given then it is false.
  3. If someone claims a word is directly from God and the word does not come to pass and the one giving the word (or another) claims that you didn’t have enough faith, this person is a false prophet.
  4. If a person claims to have a word directly from God and the word does not come to pass and the excuse is simply – God’s ways are not our ways, this person is a false prophet.
  5. If the pastor or other leaders within the church side-step certain qualifications (Elder qualifications particularly), then they (the leadership) is living in deception (or possibly deliberate sin). Get out immediately.

If you’ve encountered a false prophet, or are attending a church where there is a false prophet, get out immediately. Separately yourself from this wickedness. I realize that attending a church claiming to demonstrate signs and wonders is appealing, but I urge you to test the spirits to ensure these things are coming from God. In my experience and after close examination, I’ve encountered too many times, people making excuses for their false prophecies.

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. – 2Thessalonians 2:15 (ESV)

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