But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 1 Peter 2:1
False prophets are nothing to play around with but, sadly, many Christians do not know the Bible well enough to be able to identify false prophets. We trust any speaker or teacher that is successful and never examine his assertions in light of Scripture. Many of us read and quote from individuals having no idea that they are in fact false prophets. Some are in churches led by false prophets. Others say things like, "Yeah, he may not right on his views of salvation, but he's a great speaker and I like to listen to him." This alarms me.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15
Jesus called these false prophets ravenous wolves. Ravenous wolves are dangerous. You don't go up to a ravenous wolf and say, "Oh, I know he has sharp teeth, but his fur is soft so I think I will pet him." Instead, you run. Jesus also said these prophets bring in destructive heresies. We cannot turn a blind eye to false prophets for the sake of "getting along." We can't listen to them because they are "good speakers." We must stand for truth.
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. Titus 2:15
There is no substitute for knowing the word of God. We have to be a student of the word of God, so that when a false prophet stands before us we will recognize them as false. But, they are not easy to recognize. Jesus said that false prophets are wolves in sheep's clothing. They are in disguise. They don't look like bad guys. In fact, they look like good guys. We have to be able to discern false prophets and it takes examination and comparison to the Scriptures.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-20
Fale prophets are dangerous and destined for judgement. We must carefully examine the messages we read and listen to so that we will not be led astray. All of these things have brought me to a strong conviction to share a list of some false prophet "red flags." This list is not exhaustive and is not a replacement for comparing all teachings to the Word of God.
Someone may be a false prophet if:
1) They do NOT say Jesus is the only way. This teacher may say there is another way to achieve salvation (such as different paths to the same god), or he may refuse to acknowledge Jesus as the only way.
Jesus said to him,
2) They claim that they are the only TRUE church. This usually comes in the form of claims that they have had subsequent revelations (after the cannon of the Bible was closed) from an angel or a man. Sometimes they have their OWN translation of the Bible or have another book that they hold as equal to the Word of God. However, the Bible is clear on what believers should do when people (or angels) come purporting some new and different revelation.
|If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting. 2 John 1:10|
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book Revelation 22:18
Bible believing Christians know that being in some denomination does not ensure you are a member of the true church, only being in Christ assures that. Anyone who claims otherwise, is a false prophet.
3) They say things like, "God spoke to me" or "God told me to tell you." These individuals are elevating their own thoughts or words to the same level as the authors of Scripture who were told by God what to write. Many times, they use these phrases to "trump" scripture, meaning what they claim God said is clearly not Biblical, but because God "told" them, it must be right. God will not contradict himself in this way. As believers we must realize that our thoughts and convictions must align with Scripture. We realize we are fallible humans, and do not claim to "have a word from the Lord" apart from or contradictory to the message of Scripture.
In addition, these individuals are elevating themselves to the position of High Priest. They may attempt to act as a messenger between us and God. But, Jesus is our High Priest. Because of Christ's finished work on the cross, the veil is torn and we no longer need a earthly High Priest.
I realize that many well-intentioned individuals use statements like "God told me," but what they really mean is "God impressed upon me" or "I feel convicted that..." In this case, they may not be a false teacher; they just don't realize the error in their choice of words. However, it is something of which we should be wary. This may be a false prophet.
4) They omit sin and God's wrath from the gospel, believe people are good (not sinful/wicked), and/or believe that Christianity is a ticket to wealth, health and success. This is a big one. This undermines what Christ did on the cross and cheapens grace. These are completely UNBIBLICAL views of salvation/Christianity. Beware, this is a false prophet.
5) They put more emphasis on experience than on the Word of God. The Word of God is truth. We should be very careful about listening to those who trust anything more than they trust the Word of God. This may be a false prophet.
6) They don't have good fruit.
You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16
These teachers don't practice what they preach. This one is much harder to examine because it takes knowing the person's private life. Women are not the wives and mothers that scripture commands. Men are not the husbands and fathers they should be and do not manage their household. According to scripture men who do not meet the scriptural qualifications are disqualified from being pastors/elders. The scriptural qualifications are very clear:
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? I Timothy 3:4-5
if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain Titus 1:6-7
I pray this list gives you some insight as to how to begin to examine the teachers to which you listen or read. I hope and pray you don't take my word for it, but that you search the Scriptures for yourself. May we stand for truth and protect ourselves and our family from false teachers.