The Christ in Prophecy Journal

The Inbox: How Do We Identify a False Prophet?

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The ultimate challenge in spiritual discernment is to put to the test those people who claim they are, as the Apostle Peter described, “holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Did they really receive messages from God about the future? Let’s find out!

First, there are the rules. No prophetic predictions can be considered that are open-dated, meaning prophecies that have no certain time frame in order to be fulfilled. None of the prophecies can be self-fulfilling. And, none of the prophecies can be dependent upon conditions. Only prophetic predictions that are close-dated and unconditional can be accepted as true prophecy.

Signs of the End Times

Jesus in His Olivet Discourse warned that in the end times false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive. Three times in Matthew 24 Jesus made that warning. Therefore, His number one sign that would point to His soon return was that there would be a proliferation of false prophets. He warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15). These false prophets would multiply as the Church fell deeper into spiritual apathy (Revelation 3:14-22). The Apostle Paul described this as a time when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).

Put to the Test

Moses provided the test. A true prophet can be distinguished from a false prophet based on the accuracy of their prophecies.

“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. Do not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

Therefore, a prophet of God has to be accurate 100% of the time.

By Any Other Name

Besides the test of a prophet’s predictions having to come true 100% of the time, a second test was provided by the Apostle John (1 John 4:1-3). In order to test the spirits, so to speak, the prophet has to acknowledge that for Jesus Christ to have come from God, He must have first come in the flesh. A true follower of Jesus acknowledges that the Son of God came to earth as a man in the flesh.

Potpourri

There are other types of tests that can be given to discern a false prophet. Notice if:

  1. The prophet also speak in the name of Allah or Maitreya or Vishnu, and not necessarily the God of the Bible (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).
  2. The prophet tells you that you can be saved by putting your faith in people other than Jesus, such as Mary, the mother of Jesus (Galatians 1:8).
  3. The prophet lives a sinful life not committed to holiness (Jeremiah 23:14-15).
  4. The prophet’s followers are motivated by worldly living and do not produce spiritual fruit (Matthew 7:15-16,18; Galatians 5:22-23).
  5. The prophet focuses on self-aggrandizing visions about personal trips back and forth to Heaven and Hell (Colossians 2:18).
  6. The prophet never talks about sin or makes a call for repentance (Jeremiah 23:16-17).
  7. The prophet appears greedy for money (Jeremiah 8:10-11).
  8. The prophet focuses on himself or the Antichrist or the sensational, and not on Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:10).

Potent Potables

Now let’s put a prophet to the test! Look at the picture below of a modern-day prophet. Using the tests we’ve covered, identify whether he is a true or false prophet.

Joseph Smith

That is Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, better known as the Mormons. He added a whole other book to the Bible, calling it the Book of Mormon. Sure, he acknowledged that Jesus came in the flesh, but claimed that Jesus was the spirit brother of Satan! He claimed that one day we are all going to become gods. He had even made a number of dated prophetic predictions about men going on mission trips that never happened, churches to be built that never were, described battles which never took place, and even claimed the Native Americans were Jews, which they are not.

Using those biblical tests, you surely were able to spot a fox in the hen house with Joseph Smith. The tests can also be used for other so-called prophets.

For example, there was Charles Taze Russell who founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He prophesied the world would end in 1914. Then there was Jeane Dixon, a psychic lady who proclaimed a woman would become president in the 1980s. And don’t forget the three dates Harold Camping predicted Jesus would be coming back.

So, remember, follow these simple tests and you too can identify a false prophet and become a champion of spiritual discernment!

For further information, please read “The Danger of False Prophets”.

ABOUT AUTHOR View all posts Author Website

Nathan Jones

Nathan Jones

Assoc. Evangelist and Web Minister for Lamb & Lion Ministries, reaching out to the nearly three billion people accessible over the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

19 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Great Idea to expose the signs of false prophets and false teachers on You Tube. Specifically, The False Prophet lives a sinful life, not committed to Holiness. 2nd Peter 1…They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them. Nice panel of a variety of folks makes the scriptures very interesting.

  • I was a member of the Worldwide Church of God, founded by Herbert W. Armstrong. He claimed that the gospel of the Kingdom of God hadn’t been preached for 1800 years; that his church was the ONLY true church today and that all others are deceived by Satan. He taught that the U.S. and Britain were modern day Israelites; that the Holy Days of Lev 23 had to be observed; that three tithes were to be paid; the Sabbath was to be observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. And, he was a date setter. He discouraged people from going to doctors, yet he himself availed himself to the best in medical care. After his death the church moved to orthodoxy, but many splinter groups today teach the same message as he did.

  • I talk to people everyday that believe in things that they have heard.. none have actually read the bible.. a book they say is written by men ..not inspired by God..
    it’s very hard to talk to Christians that haven’t even read the book…
    and sadly, I am including my whole family in that category.
    Nancy

    • Very Good point. They haven’t read the gospel, so they don’t have the power of God’s word to guide them through trials and tribulations.

  • This was very informative. Thank you. What about followers of those who interpret the Bible in such a way as to twist its meaning? I speak of the ‘Health and wealth’ gospel, as it is referred to by some folks I know. I have family who believe these men and women and put all they have into these groups in ‘the name of the Lord’ and then wait to become wealthy. Are these people ‘false prophets’?

  • As always, excellent information. Thank you, my brother. Keep up the good work and also gleaning even more from the master teacher God has blessed you to have as a mentor. Shalom & Marantha!

  • It is so important that people have the Full Armor of God. Ephesians 6:14-17 The Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness, and Gospel of Peace keep us prepared and ready to fight the flaming darts of the evil one. The Shoes keep us firmly planted in place to stand our ground and not slip in our battle. The Shield of Faith is protection against temptation to sin, Helmet of Salvation, is God’s ultimate victory over the forces of evil, by Jesus’ death on the cross. The Sword of the Spirit is to defeat the enemy’s plan, and rescue lives. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, he used Bible verses to answer and the devil left him.

    Isaiah 41:10 God will help you see.

    Matthew 16: 18 On this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Ephesians 6:10 “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full Armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

  • I always believed that a prophet should be correct in his or her prophecies 100% of the time, but there is at least one example in the Bible where that is not true. God directed Jonah to prophesy to the city of Nineveh that it would be demolished in 40 days. That prophecy did not come true. The people of the city repented and God delayed the destruction. (Jonah 3)

    • I wish Jonah recorded the whole prophecy rather than leaving us a one line summary, for the judgment was likely conditional upon repentance. That’s the message of salvation today!

  • Do you distinguish between a so called prophet and the gift of prophecy? It is troubling for me to watch the many television high powered ministers who are making all kinds of prophetic statements especially about the “End Times “all claiming to have the correct interpretation directly from the scriptures. For the average church person it is a biblical nightmare.

    • The gift of prophecy is not the same today as it was when the Apostle John completed Revelation. Today, people with the spiritual gift of prophecy have a passion to share the Good News of Jesus Christ’s salvation with others in the time we have left. They also can discern what the Bible is talking about concerning the end times. They cannot predict what the future is, as God has already given us a full account of what will occur in the Bible.

      While Acts 2:17 shows the early Church fulfilled Joel 2:28’s prophecy of the miraculous gifts, Joel was clearly talking about the Day of the Lord which has yet to come. Seems these gifts are coming back stronger we get closer to the Lord’s return, and will fully culminate during the upcoming 7-year Tribulation. I believe if there is a return of the prophetic gift in that real prophecies are being made, it’s reserved for the Tribulation Saints after the Church has been removed.

  • Nathan the wolf with the thickest sheepskin is the 7th Day Adventist, they appear so close to the truth and yet interpose E.G. Whites visions and teachings into the gospel, if you dig deep enough they also propose Jesus as the arch angel Micheal like the JW.s. All false religions have at their base a false prophet.

    The JW’s, Mormons and 7th Day Adventist all came at about the same time in the late 1800’s as the Christian church’s missionary work was at it’s zenith. It was Satan’s plan to confuse and draw off converts away from the true message.

    What appears to happens is the closer you get to Christ’s coming the more subtle the deceptions become, but once the church has been removed off the earth false prophets will revert to open demonic deception as is seen in the book of Revelation.

    Thanks again, a very relevant topic as these three are still door knocking seeking folk to devour especially Christians who do not know their Bible.

  • I am so glad we have the Holy Spirit that shows us wisdom and discernment to know the truth. God’s word is truth.

    1 John 1:7 As believers walk in Faith, they experience a continual cleansing of sin by the blood of Jesus.

    1 John 5:13 The believer can be assured of salvation.

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