3 Warning Signs of a False Prophet
1. They “Prophesy” from Their Own Delusions
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds’” (Jeremiah 14:14).
The false prophet will often prophesy from their own imagination. However, because they know how to do it so well, if you are not careful you can fall victim to them. Without discernment, many times you can’t tell the difference.
Another thing to be careful of is the false prophet who prophesies only what you want to hear. They may even prophesy things that the people will agree with. This happened in Israel and this happens today.
2. What They Say Does Not Come True
“You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).
The great litmus test for anyone who claims to be a prophet of God is a simple one. Did what they say come true? This was true in biblical times and it is true today. By the way, the punishment in the Old Testament for being a false prophet was death.
“But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death” (Deuteronomy 18:20).
Clearly this is not something God takes lightly, especially because of the influence these people usually can have.
3. They Lead People Away from Christ
“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 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,’ 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. 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” (Deuteronomy 13:1-4).
What I find fascinating in this verse is that the false prophet announced a sign and wonder and it actually happened. This might be lead you to believe this false prophet is true. However, the real motive eventually comes out. This prophet would then turn and encourage people to follow other gods and worship them.
This is why time and patience are wonderful gifts when you are dealing with anyone who declares themselves a prophet. Time is necessary because it will eventually reveal the motives of the heart. Patience is required to see if what they say comes true.
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