Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in my name; I did not send them, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke I to them: they prophesy to you a lying vision, and divination, and a thing of nothing, and the deceit of their own heart. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name, and I did not send them, yet they say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land:’ ‘By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.’
Why do people listen to false prophets? This is a question I have asked myself over and over again. It was not just a problem in the old and new testaments, but it is a continuing issue today. There is only one answer I can come up with for this question and that is that these “false prophets” teach and say what others want to hear. Many times false teachers get fame and riches for their silver tongues. They may even be seen as wise, however, they lead people away from God. By encouraging these false teachers and supporting them, we are just as guilty as they are. Now what does the Lord say in His word about false teachers?
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.
The bible warns us about false teachers because we are easily fooled. I say this because in Jeremiah’s time the people were even plotting to kill him for telling them what God commanded to tell him. If Jeremiah would have just told the people what they wanted to hear like the other false prophets he would have been celebrated. By standing up for God’s word and obeying our Lord no matter what took real courage. One should also see the character of the people teaching. Are they honest, humble and loving or are they hiding behind a mask? what does the bible teach about spotting a flase prophet?
1 John 4:1-6
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit who does not confess a Jesus is not of God; and this is that of the antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already. 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them. 6 We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
When spotting a false prophet or “anti-christ,” a believer must be sure that the Spirit of God is in them. God warns us to not be fooled by every spirit. A false teacher will not confess that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. Those who deny this is not with the Spirit of God and are false teachers. John also teaches that love’s origin is God. Everyone with true love is born of God (1John 4:7-8). Since God loved us so much that He sacrificed His only son for our sins, we should truly love one another. This love is evidence that the Holy Spirit is living in you.
Another way to test a false teacher is the accuracy of his words. The bible commands us to study God’s word and if we fail to do this basic thing we cannot truly know if what someone is teaching you is truth or not. Whether you are hearing a sermon or reading a bible study, look up the scriptures and read them for yourselves and research it. Pray for the Lord to give you wisdom to understand the scripture. Then find out who wrote it, the purpose of that particular scripture, the intended audience, and the major themes. This will allow you to grasp the full context of that particular scripture.
The simple lesson I am trying to communicate is to evaluate your teachers. I am not trying to undermine them, but people make mistakes and I know if I do, many more do as well. So when someone is trying to teach you something think about these simple questions. Are they spirit filled? Do they confess the truth about our lord and savior Jesus Christ? Are their lives full of God’s grace? Are they teaching biblical truths or are they just saying their opinions? If any of these responses set off an alarm, evaluate those teachings. The bible is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) and by studying it we can grow spiritually and help others like we are all called to do. By understanding this simple truth we should want to test every spirit. Please don’t follow the crowds and fall into the trap of false teachings or religious people who only teach partial truths.
Please have a blessed day!