In the first part of this study, we took an in-depth look at Scripture to examine the calling of prophets, how God speaks to them and uses them, the operation of the prophetic gift, as well as the different categories of prophecies recorded in the Bible. To conclude this study, we will now look at ways of authenticating prophets and prophecies, and also examine the various spirits that inspire and influence false prophets.
How do we differentiate between true and false prophets? Or between true and false prophecies? Kindly refer to the teaching on “How To Identify False Prophets” published earlier on this blog for details on this issue. However, let me summarise the salient facts on this issue thus: a true unconditional prophecy must come to pass if it came from God! There is no other explanation for the failure of an unconditional prophecy than that it didn’t come from God. This makes the prophecy false and the prophet’s calling questionable. No one should tell you an unconditional prophecy failed to come to pass because people failed to pray for its fulfilment, or people prayed against it. That is a big lie! An unconditional prophecy does not require any human act for its fulfilment! Whether people believed it or not, whether people prayed about it or not, it must come to pass if it came from the Almighty God! If a supposedly unconditional prophecy failed to materialise, it simply means the prophet who gave the prophecy is false and should not be feared!
Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
Deuteronomy 18:21 And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?
Deuteronomy 18:22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.
Also, a true prophet points people towards the only true God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, rather than away from him and towards themselves and other gods. This means that a true prophet must honour and align with the written Word of God, which is the judge of the spoken Word.
Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder,
Deuteronomy 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke to you, saying, Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them;
Deuteronomy 13:3 You shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proves you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 13:4 You shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and join to him.
Deuteronomy 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he has spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust you out of the way which the LORD your God commanded you to walk in. So shall you put the evil away from the middle of you.
A true prophet of the New Testament must not lead people into acts and practices that are contrary to the Apostolic teachings and writings, which are the foundations of the New Testament Church. Any deviations from the Apostolic teachings and writings and a leading of people away from the original Gospel of Jesus Christ makes a prophet false! A true prophet of the New Testament must acknowledge that the original Apostolic teachings are commandments of the Lord which must not be controverted!
1 Corinthians 14:36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it to you only?
1 Corinthians 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
In summary, the mandatory fulfilment of an unconditional prophecy and the alignment of the teachings of a prophet with the written Word and Apostolic doctrines make a prophet true, and his prophecy divinely inspired. The reverse is the case for a false prophet and for false prophecies: an unconditional prophecy fails to come to pass for whatever reasons, and the prophet has no regard or respect for the written Word of God or the Apostolic doctrines.
What we have been saying all along is that, true prophecy is inspired by the Holy Spirit. What then inspires false prophecy? What motivates people to prophesy lies and falsehood in the name of the Lord? Let us examine Scripture to look at the spirits that inspire false prophets.
1 Kings 22:19 And he said, Hear you therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
1 Kings 22:20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
1 Kings 22:21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
1 Kings 22:22 And the LORD said to him, With which? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, You shall persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
1 Kings 22:23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets, and the LORD has spoken evil concerning you.
False prophets are inspired by lying or seducing spirits to speak lies in the name of the Lord. By speaking lies, they mislead and seduce people into falsehood and ultimately destruction. That was how those false prophets, inspired by lying spirits, lured King Ahab with false hope to his untimely death! Beware of false prophets who are inspired by lying spirits!
Next, false prophets may prophesy from their mind or their human spirit. They get excited in their spirits and stand up to proclaim “Thus saith the Lord”, or “I prophesy”, when the Lord has not said so. Such human inspired prophecies are usually vague, nonspecific and not directed to anyone in particular, making it difficult to hold these false prophets accountable, when the prophecies fail to materialise. Of course, because God did not speak, such “Thus saith the Lord” or “I prophesy” will not come to pass, for only what God has commanded will come to pass!
Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?
Let’s see examples of false prophets who prophesy from their human spirit in Scripture. We will see that they are usually induced by greed and covetousness to give people pleasant prophecies to satisfy their itching ears and lusts. Financial and material gains dictate their prophecies. They are motivated by the rewards of unrighteousness!
Ezekiel 13:1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Ezekiel 13:2 Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say you to them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear you the word of the LORD;
Ezekiel 13:3 Thus said the Lord GOD; Woe to the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!
Ezekiel 13:4 O Israel, your prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.
Ezekiel 13:5 You have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.
Ezekiel 13:6 They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD said: and the LORD has not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.
Ezekiel 13:7 Have you not seen a vain vision, and have you not spoken a lying divination, whereas you say, The LORD said it; albeit I have not spoken?
Ezekiel 13:8 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; Because you have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, said the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 13:9 And my hand shall be on the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 13:10 Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, see, others daubed it with untempered mortar:
Ezekiel 13:11 Say to them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.
Ezekiel 13:12 See, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said to you, Where is the daubing with which you have daubed it?
Ezekiel 13:13 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in my anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.
Ezekiel 13:14 So will I break down the wall that you have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and you shall be consumed in the middle thereof: and you shall know that I am the LORD.
Ezekiel 13:15 Thus will I accomplish my wrath on the wall, and on them that have daubed it with untempered mortar, and will say to you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it;
Ezekiel 13:16 To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, said the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 13:17 Likewise, you son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy you against them,
Ezekiel 13:18 And say, Thus said the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs on the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of my people, and will you save the souls alive that come to you?
Ezekiel 13:19 And will you pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?
Ezekiel 13:20 Why thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, with which you there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that you hunt to make them fly.
Ezekiel 13:21 Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and you shall know that I am the LORD.
Ezekiel 13:22 Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
Ezekiel 13:23 Therefore you shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and you shall know that I am the LORD.
Nowadays, behind almost all Pentecostal pulpits, it has become fashionable to hear preachers “prophesying” blessings and prosperity to everybody, and enjoining all to scream a loud “Amen!” to claim the “prophesied” blessings. The words “I prophesy” are used to precede declarations of blessings to the congregations, who will all jump to receive such prophetic declarations. Now, what these preachers are doing is not prophesying! They are wishing blessings upon the people. It would have been fine if they had either just prayed for these blessings upon the people or wished the people well. It is scriptural to wish above all things that your congregation prosper and be in health as their souls prosper (3 John 1:2). However, to presume to prophesy in the name of the Lord over the people just to please them, when the Lord has not specifically mandated you to do so, is not only deceitful and unscriptural, it is a great display of ignorance of how the Spirit of prophecy works. It amounts to speaking for God when God has not spoken! It is presumption of the highest order, claiming to bring forth a “Thus saith the Lord” when the Lord has not said anything. That’s being a false prophet!
Finally, let us look at an important safeguard for believers against false prophecy and false prophets: the need to judge all prophets and prophecies before believing and accepting them. Scripture warns us to try all spirits because many false prophets are in the world. Unless we try and test them diligently, we risk being deceived, duped and devoured. Don’t believe any prophetic message to be from God until you have judged both the message and the messenger to be of the Lord!
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
1 John 4:2 Hereby know you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
1 Corinthians 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
1 Corinthians 14:30 If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace.
1 Corinthians 14:31 For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
There are many false prophets out there in the world today. For this reason, we should not accept prophets without trying or testing them first. How do you test a prophet or any man of God for that matter? First, compare the words they preach or prophesy with the written Word. Does their teaching or prophecy agree with the general principles of the written Word or do they violate or go contrary to the written Word? Is what they are saying in agreement with the Apostolic teachings or against them? If such teachings or prophecies are contrary to the written Word and Apostolic teachings, then they are not of God and should be disregarded. They are false. Next, observe the fruits of their lives and ministries. Do their character, behaviour and lifestyles align with the fruits of the Spirit or do they align with the works of the flesh? By their fruits you should know whether they are Holy Spirit filled and inspired or just carnal men inspired by lying spirits and motivated by greed and covetousness.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Matthew 7:16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Matthew 7:17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.
Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Matthew 7:19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Matthew 7:20 Why by their fruits you shall know them.
Matthew 7:21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?
Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
In conclusion, the prophetic gift is still operational in the Church today, as promised in Scripture. It is however full of counterfeit and must be carefully assessed and evaluated before it is believed, so that we don’t get deceived or led astray. True prophecy emanates from the Holy Spirit, and and not from the human mind, and therefore does not fail, for God cannot fail or lie. The word of God released from God’s mouth will not return back to him void without accomplishing what it was intended to accomplish.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
To stay safe from false prophets and the havoc they cause, be guided by the Holy Spirit and be grounded in the Written Word of God!
God bless you!