The Christ in Prophecy Journal

How to Recognize a False Prophet

False prophets are all over the landscape today, and they are a sign of the times pointing to the soon return of Jesus.

Jesus Himself warned of false prophets in the end times. His most detailed discourse on end time signs is recorded in Matthew 24. In that passage the very first sign He mentions is false prophets (Matthew 24:4-5), and it is the only sign He repeats (Matthew 24:11,24). His warning was blunt and plain spoken: “Many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.”

The Apostle Paul echoed the Lord’s warning when he spoke to the elders of the church in Ephesus. Here’s how he put it, as recorded in Acts 20:28-31 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock… [for] I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be on the alert.”

Peter and John also warned against the danger of false prophets. Peter asserted that false prophets would “introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master” (2 Peter 2:1). John exhorted his brethren to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

John proceeded to provide a test that should be given to prophets. He said they are to be asked to confess that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” and that He is from God (1 John 4:2). He went on to assert that anyone who refuses to confess that Jesus is from God has the “spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:3).

The Old Testament test of a prophet is spelled out in Deuteronomy 18:22 — “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously…”

This, of course, is an obvious test. But what if the prophecy is fulfilled? Does that guarantee that the prophet is speaking for God? Not necessarily. The reason is that a prophetic utterance might be fulfilled by coincidence or because of supernatural insight given to the prophet by Satan. So there must be other tests.

Additional Tests

1) Does the prophet speak in the name of a god other than the true God revealed in Scripture?
If a prophet speaks in the name of Allah or Baal or Vishnu, you can be assured that he is a false prophet.

“If a prophet… rises among you and gives you a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known), and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of the prophet…for the Lord your God is testing you.” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

2) Does the prophet’s message pass the test of Scripture?
If a prophet tells you that you can be saved by putting your faith in Mary, the mother of Jesus, you can be certain he is not a spokesman for God.

“But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8)

3) Does the prophet’s life manifest a commitment to holiness?
If a prophet lives a sinful life, his prophecies are to be doubted.

“Among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing; the committing of adultery and walking in falsehood… Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets, ‘Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood and make them drink poisonous water.'” (Jeremiah 23:14-15)

4) Does the prophet’s teaching produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)?
If the prophet’s followers are motivated to worldly living, the prophet does not speak for God.

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits… a good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-16,18)

5) Does the prophet emphasize vain visions?
If the prophet focuses on personal visions with sensational insights (visits to Heaven or Hell, for example), his words are to be distrusted.

“Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by… taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind.” (Colossians 2:18)

6) Does the prophet deliver only positive messages?
If the prophet never issues a call for repentance, he is to be suspect.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, ‘You will have peace…” They say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.'” (Jeremiah 23:16-17)

7) Does the prophet appear to be greedy for monetary gain?
If the prophet operates in a manner that makes it appear that his greatest interest is money, he is to be avoided.

“From the least even to the greatest, everyone is greedy for gain; from the prophet even to the priest, everyone practices deceit. And they heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, saying, “Peace, peace.” But there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:10-11)

8) Does the prophet focus on the exaltation of Jesus?
If a prophet tries to bring attention to himself or focuses on the Antichrist or the sensational, he is to be questioned.

“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)

Over and over, the Word of God commands us to test all messages lest we be deceived and led astray. Paul urged the people of Berea to test everything he taught them, and they did so by “examining the Scriptures daily” to see whether what he was teaching was scriptural (Acts 17:10-11). Paul was an apostle! How much more so should we test everything we hear taught by the standard of the Word of God.

The tragedy is that most professing Christians today are incapable of testing anything because they are biblically ignorant. There is a famine of the Word in most churches today (Amos 8:11) as people are fed a diet of pop psychology and positive thinking.

What about you? Are you in the Word on a daily basis? Are you capable of testing doctrine by Scripture? If not, then you are a sitting duck for deception. “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

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ABOUT AUTHOR View all posts Author Website

Dr. David Reagan

Dr. David Reagan is the Founder and Evangelist Emeritus of Lamb & Lion Ministries. He is a life-long Bible student, teacher, and preacher and he led over 45 pilgrimages to Israel. Dr. Reagan was the host of the radio then television program Christ in Prophecy for nearly 40 years.

30 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • I think the false prophet will put a spin on immorality, making it seem good and acceptable. I know that Hollywood is not a false prophet per se, but after watching four or five previews at the movies yesterday, where one preview was worse than the next, I really could imagine how a false prophet would look today. Everything’s acceptable and if you don’t think its funny, there must be something wrong with you! I think that the false prophets of today are entrenched in Hollywood, look at Obama who has befriended Hollywood as a personal advisor.

  • concerning visions of heavn or hell? What if someone has a vision of hell then after that points people to the Bible, to Jesus and to repentance? I am refering to the book 23 minutes in hell by bill Wiesel

  • Who can ever forget used car salesman Joel Osteen who answers “I don’t know” when asked if Jesus is the only way to salvation.

  • Here you go, hart_thizzle.

    “You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know …” – Joe Osteen on Larry King Live July 18, 2005

    “Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.” – Joel Osteen on Larry King Live July 18, 2005

    As for why “Christian” TV shows that stuff: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; – 2 Timthy 4:3

    Joel Osteen is big money right now. You want viewers, put on Osteen. It’s all about the Benjamins.

  • “Pastor” Joel Osteen does not teach repentance, salvation through Jesus’ blood only, or (gasp!) that man is si-si-sinful (shiver).

    He teaches love, love, love, and, oh yeah, love. I actually heard him teach one time that whatever we (I guess he means Christians) want to do, God will bless. Whatever we want to do? Guess that means we can go pillage some small town and go get drunk afterwards, huh?

  • Mr. Reagen
    I know you are aware of a lot of men and women who are caught up in this latest favorite thing to do in the Christian world but do you believe that Kim Clement is a true prophet of God? It is very important and I am not just wanting to have a sensational answer. But this man has repeatedly hit the nail on the head and I know this from a friend who is very impressed. I just have a real odd reaction whenever I hear him on one of the Christian boardcasts. Is he or isn’t he? It really bothers me when this happens and I am not a new believer and yet I have a big problem with him. My friend is just sure he is for real. Can you and will you help me in this?


  • thanks for the imput on joel osteen. I never did like his “positive attitude” sermons so i ALWAYS avoided him. I just had a hard time believing he went that far. I’d also like to know about that kim character. And about bill weisel author of the book 23minutes in hell

  • speaking of about the benjamins am i the only one who noticed that if you walk into a christian bookstore most of the books are “self-help” books or books that tell you you’re all that and to think highly of yourself? Have any of you noticed that too?

  • oh, just one more thing (for now) the verse dr. Reagan pu up (amos 8:11) concerning a famine of hearing the word of the Lord, am i correct in interperting the modern seeker-sensitive church as a direct fulfillment of that verse or is that a stretch? I’d like to know cuz when speaking out against seeker sensitive churches i often quoted that verse and told a lot of people that the seeker sensitive church was a fulfillment of that verse and i want to make sure i am correct.

  • Hart…what I’ve noticed in the Christian section of retail bookstores is the explosion of books on lost gospels, gnostic gospels, secret societies and every other sort of text with the goal of basically denying the divinity of and other truths about Christ.

  • Ya, i noticed that too. It’s either that or self help/self esteem books. They use verses like “you’re more than conquerers” or “you can do all things” out of context. What about verses like “the heart is decietful above all” or “there is none rightouse”

  • Generally i see two whole shelves on lost “gospels” and gnostic books, 4 shelves on self help books (and prosperity books saying god wants you to be rich) and maybe 5 single books on prophecy or repentance or fasting. That’s 5 TOTAL. If i’m lucky

  • My father has been selling Bibles and Christian materials from publishers to Christian book stores for 40 years. He finds very alarming 1) the trend that Christian bookstores have moved to gifts over literature in order to meet the audience’s purchasing demands, and 2) the amount of Christian bookstores going under. He no longer has more than a handful of Christian bookstores left to visit in the Northeast.

    It is certainly a sign of the times – the Laodician apathy of the Church in North America.

  • Great Grany 5, thanks for bringing Kim Clement to my attention. I hadn’t heard of him till now.

    I’ve visited Kim Clement’s prophecy website to get a better idea of who he is. First impressions, I can’t find a doctrinal statement anywhere. Second, he talks as if speaking from God directly (and not the Bible which is God’s final revelation to this Age). Third, his predictions are based on current events. Fourth, he predicts God will remove all debt from America by 2010.

    From these observations based on the false prophet litmus tests from this article, I’d have to conclude Clement’s not on the level.

  • someone once was asked if there were prophets today. This pastor said: of course, there is Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel. There is the gift of prophecy but no prophets, the gift of apostle but no apostles. Anyone who calls himself a prophet or prophetess is false

  • Are we in a famine for God’s word? You bet. According to the Back to the Bible Bible Literacy Research Center of over 8,000 people surveyed, all “evangelical Christians”, less than 20% read their Bibles 4 times a week or more.

    I’ve heard Dr. Reagan speak of going to churches where a Bible couldn’t even be found. He’s spoken of seminary Bible classes without Bibles!

    So it’s no wonder people are falling for this “self-help” garbage. Most people believe that the saying “God helps those who help themselves” is the Bible! I even saw a “Self-help New Living Translation” of the Bible in a used book store one day.

  • if it wasnt for the stuff i hear and see i’d accuse you of making.that up. Good grief a self help translation. I can hardly find a good church. In this part of the country (the pacific nortwest) they have pet phsyciatrist and more dogs than christians

  • I actually got in an argument with a woman in my Sunday school class in a Midwestern Bible-belt fundamental Pentecostal church about the “God helps those…” quote. She argued that it’s in the Bible. I said 1)show me where, and 2)If we could help ourselves, then Jesus need not have died.

  • can someone please answer my question because i am confused about something
    i keep hearing repetitively about the gog-magog battle that will happen before the tribulation
    there is also a poll about it which shows that almost everyone thinks that it will happen before or during the tribulation
    from what i have read in revelation it talks about gog-magog AFTER the 1000 year reign of christ and satans release from the abyss
    why is this not ever mentioned?

  • Sure thing, Glen! The description of a Gog-Magog Battle happening at the end of the Millennium is based on Rev. 20:7-10, which is about Satan being released at the end of 1000 years and leading those rebellious born during that time into battle against Jesus in Jerusalem.

    But, there is also a Gog-Magog Battle recorded in Ezekiel 38-39, which is related to the Tribulation 1000 years earlier.

    Some have supposed that these two Gog-Magog Battles are the same, but they are described vastly different. Once the poll is closed, I’ll post an article explaining the differences and timings of the Gog-Magog Battle.

  • Wow the times they is a changin yet God is still in control.
    Phony prophets slingin firey arrows but the word of God is here to quench em’ out. Read Hebrews 6 and it says much of what is in this article in condesed form. i was blessed enough to study it today so I’m guessin’ God is trying to tell me much. peace thru Jesus our ultimate high priest and sacrificer for our sins!!!+++

  • Cristal Clear, Jesus bless your Ministries Dr.Reagan, Greatings from Managua Nicaragua, Carlos Chamorro Schutze. The Rapture of the Church is very soon…

  • When speaking of prophets we should be asking the obvious question, “are they allowed to be wrong.?” The answer is no! Dave Wilkerson has been wrong in his predictions numerous times, so let us stop calling him a prophet, or the Jeremiah of America. He is a godly man who has done by God’s grace alone great things, but he is not a prophet….period! Trevor

  • I have a question.. I have been invited by a close christian sister in Christ to attend this "prophetic encounter" where prophets who follow Jesus speak a word from the Lord into or over your life. From what I hear of her experience the prophets wait until they hear from the Lord than speak the word. I was thinking of going but now I am not so sure..Opinions from Christians only please. Thank you.

  • I would think that a person who stands in front of people and prophecies over their lives need to have love in their hearts where the ministry is not about them. I know of a false prophet that I used to believe in until I started seeing her talk awful about people. I believe this woman believes she is an old testament prophet. She may show love at her meetings, but in her normal every day life I saw that she did not love people. She is very paranoid and distrusting of people. It is very sad to see someone who cannot forgive and talk evil about them and curse them and tell others that they are going to hell or to stay away from people.

  • I've learned a very big lesson not to follow prophets because not all prophets are from God that I know because Jesus demonstrated love and she does not demonstrate love at all. She has a tremendous amount of unforgiveness in her heart. It is so very sad and I pray for this woman because she could truly be of God if she demonstrated love instead of destroying others like I've seen her do.


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