Question: How can I tell if someone is a false prophet?
Answer: The Bible gives us some very specific guidelines to help us recognize a false prophet, or an antichrist spirit. The apostle John says this - “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” – I John 2:19.
The apostle Paul warns that these ones speak “perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” – Acts 20:30.
We can glean from these scriptures that the basic root of error in any false prophet is a falling away from, or disregard for the apostolic authority of our founding apostles and the doctrine that they have been entrusted with. A true prophet of God will lead His sheep to the word of God, not someone else’s version of it.
I was shown a foundational doctrine study guide from a famous and widely accepted evangelical church in California that actually taught that someone could leave their faith in Christ and still go to heaven. I was shocked and horrified that this book was being recommended by so many prominent evangelical leaders even though it was teaching a heresy that is so clearly refuted by the Scriptures.
“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” - (Galatians 1:8, 9).
In order to guard against deception, one must have knowledge of the Scriptures. If we are consistently immersing ourselves in the pure word of God, it will be much easier to discern when we are being led astray.
Note in Acts 20:30 a false prophet will seek to draw followers after themselves. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ and the atonement. A true prophet of God seeks God’s glory and not his own.
In Deuteronomy 13:1-3 we are warned -
“If there arises among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke to you, saying, Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them; You shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proves you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
God will allow us to be tested in this area. Will we heed the voice of men above the word of God? It’s clear here that sometimes miracles can occur even when someone is preaching a false word. The criteria for judgment again goes back to the authority of the word of God itself. Is the doctrine that the prophet is teaching lining up with the Scriptures? If not, then flee.
The spiritual condition of ancient Israel prior to the captivity is very similar to the spiritual condition of the church today. In the last days we are warned to beware of false signs and wonders that could almost deceive the very elect. Jesus said –“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” - Matthew 24:24.
We believe that God does work through signs and wonders, and we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water – again the criteria for judgment must rest on what the word actually teaches.
Jeremiah 23 gives us some definite signs to discern a false prophet. He ties their activity then in his day to the future in verse twenty when He states “In the latter days you shall consider it perfectly,” so these warnings are applicable to the times we are living in now.
God tells us that false prophets “commit adultery, and walk in lies” verse 14. Although some of them may preach an outward holiness; they are not living consistent holy lives themselves. There is no genuine fruit on their vine because they are not abiding in Christ.
I met a pastor who was following a particular evangelist in California many years ago. He was baffled because this man’s services were accompanied by signs and miracles, yet he was committing adultery. Going back to Deuteronomy 13:1-3 and Matthew 24:24, we are again reminded that sometimes signs and wonders can accompany false teachers.
Also Jeremiah 23:14 shows us that these prophets “strengthen the hands of evil doers, that none returns from his wickedness:” A consistent characteristic of a false prophet is an aversion to preaching repentance. There is no correction, and there is an acceptance or lukewarm attitude toward sexual sin which is why God refers to these prophets as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“They say still unto them that despise Me, The Lord hath said, you shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walks after the imagination of his own heart, ‘No evil shall come upon you” - Jeremiah 23:17.
The Bible clearly teaches that there are consequences to sin. We will reap what we sow and God is a righteous judge. Many of today’s false teachers insist that God does not punish in spite of the multitudes of Scriptures that says He does. This type of teaching is characteristic of the Jezebel spirit that is so predominate in these last hours. This self- proclaimed prophetic spirit possesses an aversion to repentance and sexual sin usually follows in the wake of the false doctrines this spirit produces – Revelation 2:20-23.
God says to Jeremiah what He would have us hear today that - “If they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings” - Jeremiah 23:22.
If God is genuinely speaking through a prophet, there will be a definite call to repentance and doctrine that will contain a corrective edge – whether we care to heed it or not; remember, God is testing us.
Got Questions? | Home Page