March 17, 2023
“'I will hold accountable whoever does not listen to My words that he speaks in My name. But the prophet who dares to speak in my name a message...'”
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“‘I will hold accountable whoever does not listen to My words that he [the prophet] speaks in My name. But the prophet who dares to speak in my name a message I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods – that prophet must die.’ You may say to yourself, “How can we recognize a message the Lord has not spoken?” When a prophet speaks in the Lord’s name, and the message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:19-22 (HCSB)
There are two ways to test a prophet, primarily because there are two kinds of prophecies. First, there are prophecies, which predict the future; then there are those which claim the revelation of God’s Word. So, there are basically two ways to spot a false prophet: 1) His prophecies (predictions of the future) don’t come true. 2) His message for today is inconsistent with the Word of God.
The challenge of discerning prophecies concerning the future is that you have to wait & see. Sometimes, the wait is critically long. For instance, the followers of cult leaders like Jim Jones or David Koresh went to the grave following false prophets. Other followers of false prophets may not see a fatal demise, but they risk wasting valuable years chasing after false hope.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when longing is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
Satan cannot steal the soul of a true believer, but he can make them ineffective by getting them to hope in things the Lord never promised. When the object of their hope never arrives, the victim’s anger is focused on the Lord because they honestly believe the prophecy came from Him.
Perhaps, a more efficient way to spot a false prophet is not in testing the prophecy but in testing the prophet himself. Are the words they speak and the lives they live in accordance with God’s revealed Word and Jesus’ life example? Put simply: Does the overall character and words of the prophet correspond with the character and Word of God?
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father.” Matt 7: 21 (HCSB)
One of the by-products of reading the Bible every day is that we develop a heightened ability to spot counterfeits, not heed their instruction and warn others to stay away.
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©Steve Wiggins 2021