How can we recognize false prophets today?
Many Christian sites warn us for false prophets today. These sites pretend to be extremely biblical and passionate for truth. Everyone that diverses from their interpretation will be quickly labelled as a false prophet and a wolf in sheeps clothing. Many dedicated servants of Jesus Christ who operate in the power of the Holy Spirit are being portrayed as false prophets on those websites.
Typical for the authors of those ‘cautioning’ sites is that they themselves have little or no experience with the workings of the Spirit of God.
They don’t know the miracle working power of God and don’t move in the gifts of the Spirit. Due to their lack of experience they criticize those who do operate in the power of the Spirit. This has of course nothing to do with ‘biblical testing’ or the truth. Their criticism springs from a lack of experience and understanding concerning the working of the Spirit of God. They do not know the supernatural dimension of the Holy Spirit, their judging comes purely from their human reasoning and adhere to a theology that excludes the power of God.
False prophets or false accusation?
Of course it’s no problem, when people have little experience with the gifts of the Spirit and the power of Jesus Christ that brings healing and deliverance. Everybody is still growing in their walk with Jesus Christ. It is however a problem when they declare in public that dedicated servants of Jesus Christ are false prophets, simply because the power of God is working in their ministry. That is nothing less than demonic gossip and false accusation, which is the ultimate hallmark of satan, who is called ‘the accuser of the brethren’ (Revelation 12:10). Therefor these ‘christian’ websites who call themselves experts in discernment, are in fact joining sides with the accuser, in his war against Jesus Christ, who sent His servants to bring salvation on earth.
“The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me.” (Luke 10:16)
Jesus was called a false prophet
That is nothing new because even the scribes in the time of Jesus Christ called Jesus a false prophet and a heretic. The apostles, who served Jesus passionately, were prosecuted by fire and sword by the religious leaders of their time. It is characteristic for everybody that serve Jesus dedicatedly to be falsely accused by the religious order of their time.
The scribe Saul did everything in his power to kill the followers of Jesus Christ and thought he was serving God through that.
Saul was convinced that the first Christians were following a false prophet and that the Christian faith was a false doctrine. But he himself was severely deceived. People who have a spiritual blindness will always accuse the ones who walk in truth that they are misled. And every false prophet will accuse true prophets to be false. Stating that someone is a false prophet thus does not mean anything. It is therefore very foolish to uncritically believe what the many ‘warning’ christian site tell you. In many cases it can cause a lot of damage.
The Holy Spirit works miracles
When you look at the Christian sites about false doctrines and false prophets you will notice that it is usually the people who work within the miracle working power of God that receive the stamp of being ‘deceptive’, ‘unbiblical’ and ‘dangerous’. Miracles are generally pernicious, according to many. This is however a grave lack of insight.
The Bible clearly emphasises that God gives His Spirit to Christians to work miracles amongst us:
“He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you.” (Galatians 3:5)
“God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” (Hebrews 2:4)
“For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me … in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit.” (Romans 15:18-19)
“The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.” (2 Cor. 12:12)
“and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1 Cor. 2:4)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” (Acts 1:8)
“For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” (1 Cor 4:20)
Besides the working of miracles and powers there are supernatural gift of the Spirit that Christians receive: healing, speaking in tongues, prophecy, perception of demons etc. (see 1 Cor 12 and 14).
The Bible emphasises that a feature of God’s presence is the working of miracles.
If there is a false doctrine in church that needs to be destroyed, it is the lie that God doesn’t work miracles anymore and that the gifts of the Spirit are no longer for this time. That is a lie that runs counter to the Bible and makes Christians powerless. People who do not know and are not allowed to experience the reality of God’s power are subject to an intellectual, theoretical and humanly controlled Christianity where God is being discussed, but where God hardly is allowed to be present.
God wants to save people from the grip that Satan has on them through sickness, sin and demons. Jesus Christ came to bring deliverance and healing. We need the power of God for that.
If someone resists the Spirit of God… who is the false prophet then?
God is a reality, a powerful warrior who lets His Spirit work amazingly powerful to deliver people from the powers of darkness. God is pure love who wants to heal and build up his beloved children. Whoever is fighting against that is not being led by the Spirit of God. You are being led by the darkness who wants nothing more than God’s spirit to be hindered in order to prevent people from being healed and delivered.
How do we recognize a false prophet?
Jesus Christ warned us for false prophets and told us how we can recognize them:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-19)
Jesus Christ told us that we will recognize false prophets by their fruits.
Think about it for a minute: what is the fruit of people who slander others all the time? Is that a good fruit, with a sweet taste? Or is it a bitter fruit, pointing out that it comes from a bitter source?
Someone who gives his life to bring the salvation of the heavenly Father to people, bears good fruit. The saving love of God in action, is the best fruit that exists. Lost people who come to repentance, from death to life, from sin to holiness, from darkness to light, from sickness to health, from bondage to freedom.
Those are the fruits that Jesus Christ bore. He healed all the sick that came to Him, cast out demons and gave people a new life with God.
Of course there are false prophets that perform miracles and cast out demons (or so it appears). About them Jesus Christ said:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:21)
So not only the working of miracles and having supernatural signs is the hallmark of a true servant of God. We need to do the will of the Father. But, what is the will of the Father? The apostle James simply sums it up for us:
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)
A preacher who performs miracles but is not driven by a deep emotion for people in need can be deceived. Love is after all God’s hallmark.
A false prophet has no genuine love
Because God is love, the hallmark for someone who truly lives with God is loving your neighbour:
“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
What do you think: is it a proof of love if someone taints God’s servants? Of course not. That has nothing to do with God. Even if someone thinks they are serving God, if they do not function in love for their brothers, they do not know God. There are many people, in various sects and religions who truly believe they are serving God, but who are bound in deep darkness and are far away from God.
Being able to quote the Bible doesn’t meant that the person knows God.
Do you have love for your brothers? Do you care for your neighbour? Is your heart one of compassion and affection? Do you have respect for others and are you humble? Those are the features of someone who knows God. If you do not have love for a brother, you do not know God.
“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
If you always speak evil about your brothers, you do not have love.
You can be very religious, you pray and read the Bible, but God is not in your life. Religious activity is totally different from having an humble and loving heart.
A false prophet lies consistently
Beside love there is a second feature that is essential to God and is therefore also distinctive for a true prophet: speaking the truth. God will never lie. The various websites that warn everybody for the so-called false prophets, are full of lies about the servants of God. When you read what is written, the amount of lies that are written about several servants of God is shocking.
It is portrayed as biblical testing but much of it are blatant lies.
People say for example about Benny Hinn that the healings in his services are psychogenic and no real physical healing takes place. The truth is that numerous sick have been healed by Hinn of cancer, blindness, deafness, paralysis, allergies, infertility, heart diseases, and bowel diseases and so on.
If a Christian site claims to protect people from false doctrine but writes lies themselves, you will know that the person creating this site, is not driven by the Spirit of God. The Bible says that lying is the feature of Satan, the devil.
“He does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
This is how you recognize a false prophet: he lies.
He is someone who is lying but pretending to speak the truth. Truth is being twisted, light is called darkness and darkness named as light.
Do you really verify with the Bible?
Christians always say that we recognize a false doctrine by verifying it with the Bible. But that is not a simple as it sounds. Because many who proclaim they test everything to the Bible, don’t do that at all. What they do is verifying it with their interpretation of the Bible. They test according to human opinion and doctrines about the Bible. If someone has a revelation about something mentioned in the Bible and you don’t possess insight on that topic yet, you cannot ‘verify this with the Bible’.
Most people who claim they verify with the Bible, in fact verify with their own limited insights concerning certain Bible verses.
Every Christian denomination has a certain revelation about the Bible, but also has a lot of blind spots and do not see everything yet the way God intended to. If we claim to verify with the Bible, we have to try to empty ourselves from our doctrines and traditions and try to read the Bible with the open mind of a child and see what the Bible really says about a certain topic. Sometimes it turns out that the Biblical message contradicts what we have believed for so long and hear in our denomination.
Moreover, it is impossible to understand the Bible in our own strength. That is why Jesus Christ didn’t say: ‘Go and read the Scriptures regularly so you will know the full truth.’ No. Jesus Christ said:
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13)
The only way to come in the full truth is to surrender yourself to the holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. That means that you are DEPENDENT on what He will show you and what He doesn’t show you. That also means that you have to be in deep surrender, knowing that all wisdom comes from Him and not from yourself. If the Spirit of truth, who is also called the Spirit of revelation by Paul, doesn’t teach you, you will stay blind. That is why Jesus Christ said to the scribes who read in the scriptures day and night:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
If you read the Bible in your own strength, you can be even more deceived.
Because you will read the Bible verses wrongly and misuse them to strengthen your wrong doctrine. In our own strength we will not find the truth. It is about becoming deeply dependent on the holy Spirit, in true fear of God, in true awe of God. A humble heart that wants to be formed, the heart of a student that realizes it doesn’t know anything, the heart of a child that is open to receive, someone who is poor of spirit… a person like that can learn from the Spirit of truth. If we have pride and stubbornness we will stay spiritually blind.
A true prophet brings a powerful revelation of Jesus Christ
A last feature of a true prophet is that he will always bring you into deep dependence of Jesus Christ. People that make you dependent on them are acting wrongly. A true servant of Jesus Christ will always help you to grow into maturity, leaning on Jesus Christ. The emphasis is always on HIM, the Lord, the King.
A false prophet may also speak about Jesus Christ, but many of them will make you depentant on themselves.
A true prophet will always keep a healthy distance, so you can build your life on Jesus Christ as the rock and not a human being.
What is biblical testing?
Testing is vital but we need to know what truly biblical testing means. Following is a summary of the five named biblical guidelines to test:
Look at the fruits
“Beware of the false prophets… 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)
Look at the fruits: are they sweet, beneficial, constructive? Or do they taste bitter, is it destructive and negative? Do the fruit taste pleasant like a grape or are they painful like a thorn? Do they bring forth life? Or do they spread death around?
A life in love
“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
God is love. Is the person loving, in word and more importantly in actions? Or do you see bitterness, poison, hate and self-interest? Do you see love towards the brothers or do you see hate towards the brothers? That shows whether that person is in God or not.
A life in truth
“Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
God is truth, He never lies. Is the messenger someone who lies regularly, then you will know what he actually is. A prophet of God will always be characterized by truth. Lies are the feature of Satan.
Submit yourself to the Word
“for they received the word with [b]great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
Verify with the Bible, but do not verify to your interpretation of the Bible. If the Bible says that there are gifts of the Spirit, that God works miracles, that his kingdom is a matter of power and not of words, then it is our duty to adjust our theology to what the Bible says.
Focus on Jesus Christ
“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)
Focus on Jesus Christ and not on a person. You have to honor servants of Jesus Christ love them for the sake of their work for the Lord and for people. But do not become dependent on them in a unhealthy way.
Test yourself first
It is of crucial importance that you don’t just test others but first and foremost you need to examine yourself. Most people are not stranger to always ‘testing’ others, but are filled with bitterness, pride, waywardness, lack of love and other forms of darkness. The well-known image of the beam and the splinter is applicable here. Many of those who constantly warn the world for alleged splinters with others, are bearing a whole forest of trees growing out of their eyes.
Look at your own heart, examine yourself more than anything.
Like I have explained in the article about the manifestations of the holy Spirit, it is very important that you can place your own fruits, your own life, your own ministry, your own relation with Jesus Christ in the full light. Before you can ‘test’ others you need to be humble yourself, you are open for correction and you deal with jealousy and pride. You might be believing in a false doctrine yourself.
Maybe you are the one who is deceived
If you want to know if someone is a false prophet preaching a false doctrine, examine your own life truthfully first: is it possible that I have a false doctrine myself? Is it possible that my own insight in God’s truth is still limited which causes me to understand things wrongly? Is it possible that I might be a false prophet myself?
After twenty-five years of being a Christian and reading and hearing a great deal in numerous Christian denominations in various countries, I came to this conclusion:
Most articles, books and websites that warn for false prophets and doctrines, are written by people who have a spiritual blindness themselves.
The Bible says that God wants to bless us, make us happy and healthy. A preacher who discovers and preaches that essential characteristic of God in the Bible, will be accused by some Christians of ‘prosperity gospel’ which is said to be a false doctrine. Whereas Jesus clearly says that He wants to give us life in abundance. Christians who are misled by a poverty gospel and who believe that the only good Christian is a poor and miserable one, will see the biblical truth about a prosperous life as a false doctrine. That is just one of the many examples.
Something that sounds like a false doctrine to us, could be an important biblical revelation from the heart of God to lead God’s children in freedom and fruitfulness.
Do we fight with or against the Spirit of God?
I hope that this article will help many to become healthy, free and mature and that people will stop fighting against the holy Spirit and discern the demonic spirit of slander and criticism.
Look at the fruits: do they taste sweet or bitter? Is there love? Does someone speak the truth? Are they testing their own theology to the Bible? Is the focus completely on Jesus Christ?
Are we contributing to God’s victory in a country? Or are we fighting against everybody who brings God’s victory in our country? Which spirit is leading us? The critical spirit of religion that wants to oppose the healing and liberation so people will stay sick and bound by the powers of darkness? Or are we driven by the holy Spirit of God, who heals sickness and frees people from demonic bondage so life, freedom, joy and blessing can flow?
Testing is of course very important because there are indeed false prophets today and there is definitely false doctrine. But the way in which people test and the reason why, is not always as pure as people ant you to believe.
Very often the one who says others are false prophets, is the one who is misled by a wrong theology.
Not everyone that makes the mistake to judge others wrongly, means to do so. There are sincere Christians who cordially cause a lot of damage. The question however is, if someone after reading this article, is willing to come to his senses…