This is another article I’m moving about a year after the original publishing date. This is was when I began moving away from topical articles and moving into discernment ministries.
This is a topic that I’ve wanted to write on for quite a while. In a previous article I took an analytical view of manipulation and it’s many forms I made the statement that if someone prophecies or promises something in the name of God that does not happen, that person is a false prophet. I’d like to touch a bit on that topic bring in examples of how false prophecy is existing in the Church, what impact false prophecy has and ultimately the solution.
What Biblically defines a False Prophet?
“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)
By Biblical definition a person who speaks falsely in the name of God is a false prophet. This means that it is not limited to predictions of future events as most of us would expect. Anyone who claims a teaching, vision, or plan was from God that wasn’t is a false prophet.
How to Spot when Someone is Prophesying Falsely
In the previously referenced verse it explained to us how we know if a false prophet is a false prophet. When their prophecies do not come true they are not true prophets. However since many false teachers do not really make predictions we have to find out through another method.
In Scripture we find two things to be absolute truths “For I the Lord do not change;” Malachi 3:6 (ESV) In the surrounding context God is scolding the Israelites through his prophet about how they do not tithe. However he starts the lecture with “I do not change.” We also know from Proverbs 6:16 that God hates lying. Therefore he does not lie. The first absolute truth is that God does not change. Then in one of my favorite verses 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) it says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17(ESV) The second absolute truth is that the Bible is Gods Word. Therefore if anyone creates a teaching in the name of God that defies his Word then that teaching acts as evidence to prove that they are a false prophet.
The Bible Warns of False Prophets
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
-Matthew 24:23-24 (ESV)
This of course is only one example of Christ warning his followers that there will be those who claim to be of him but aren’t. In John 10 Jesus tells how he is the Good Shepherd. From verses seven to eleven Jesus explains how his sheep will follow him because they recognize his voice. In verse ten Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” -John 10:10 (ESV) The thief was not referring to the devil but instead was referring to the false teachers. The entire second chapter of 2 Peter talks about false prophets.
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you who secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
For God did not spare the Angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them in chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgement; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes and condemned them to extinction, making an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgement, and especially those who indulge in lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgement against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse than the first. For it would have been better for them to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandments delivered to them. What the proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
-2 Peter Chapter 2
False Prophecy Examples
In the Old Testament the false prophets would speak broadly to avoid being killed if their predictions did not come true. Saying that God is going to do great things for them over the week is a very broad term and can generally be spun in all directions to evidence innocence. However there are more specific forms of prophecy that cannot be spun so easily.
Prophecy in health and healing is the first and most basic one that comes to mind. If a preacher claims that someone will be physically spontaneously healed and they either aren’t or die that person is a false prophet.
Prophecy in the election is very common right now in America. There are several competing “prophecies” that claim the next president. First of all when the president is elected all the wrong prophets will lose their credentials as prophets. Second a broken clock is right twice a day just because they predicted right can just mean they got lucky.
Prophecy for important events. Google “super smemitah.” It is a great example of how false prophets claim big things that don’t happen. The sad thing is the people who prophesied on the super shemitah are still doing so after it’s passed. And even more sad there’s still people who are buying into them.
Prophecy of the return of Christ will always be from an unsure heart. Mark says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 (ESV) Again no one knows the day or the hour means they cannot say for certainty. All they will do is guess. And it is not entirely impossible for the person to coincidentally be right. However this verse reveals that not even Christ knows only God the Father and therefore anyone who claims to know the day of the return of the Lord is a false prophet.
False Prophecy Shames the Name of God to the Unbeliever
We should be on the watch for false prophets and guard our own tongues from speaking falsely in the name of God to avoid bringing shame to God’s name. Here’s why, if someone tells a group of people that God is going to do great things in their life over the next week and those great things do not happen to even just one of them, that person, to a Christian is proven to be a false prophet.; however to the unbeliever or the visitor they will believe that the whole of Christianity is just a massive joke. In many cases they won’t just leave they will tell others about the experience they had. And then those people will tell others and the others will tell more and so on until suddenly one person hostile to true Christianity is hundreds or thousands or more. And this is a broad example imagine what people are saying about Christianity due to all the election prophecies or the super smemitah.
I’ve heard people say that Islam is the biggest threat to the Church. I’ve heard others say Atheism is the biggest threat to the Church. I think the biggest threat to the Church is false prophets. The false prophets attack the body of Christ like a parasite. Hard to detect, painful to remove, and causes disease (being false doctrine) that corrupts the body’s proper function, often causing discord among the members. It’s hard to evangelize anyone when the body is in discord. The parasites need to be removed.
The purpose of this article was to shine some light on the issue of false prophets and teachings within the Church. If you have spotted a false prophet there is a proper method to confront them. First one on one. Talk with them one on one share your convictions and the need for them to change. Then if that fails, go with at least one other person that shares your convictions. Then if that fails then you expose them publicly.