How to test for False Prophets and Teachers

The basic sign of a false prophet and teacher is that his word will go against the Word of God. But, that is also where the problem lies because many people do not know the Word of God and the Faith once delivered to the saints. They have never been taught the Scriptures accurately (Acts 18.24-28) so they don’t know enough to test or even refute the words of a so-called prophecy or false teaching. It is possible to know the Scriptures and to be taught correctly, so it is on that basis that we will proceed with how it can be done. There are basically two things that we can find that will lead us to see if a person is a false prophet. First, if what he says contradicts the Scriptures and secondly if a prediction comes true or not. Deut 13.1-5 says “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a 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’s serve them,’ you shall not listen to the word of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear him; and you shall keep his commandments, listen to his voice, serve him, and cling to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion  against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.” In this passage, the Lord is saying that if a prophet comes forward with a word to depart from the ways of God and shows you a sign to verify that he is from God, you are not to listen to what he says. In fact, the Lord said that he will allow a sign or a wonder to happen in order to test you as to whether you will follow the sign or wonder, or follow the Lord in what he has said. What is the purpose of a miracle? The purpose of a miracle is to call attention to what a person is saying and teaching. John the Baptist worked no miracles, but what he was saying was according to the Word of God. The False Prophet in Revelation will work all kinds of miracles, and yet what he will be saying will not be biblical. We are not to follow anyone or fear their words if it contradicts the Word of God, no matter what sign he gives. In 1 Kings 13.11-25 we have the story about a prophet who was told by the Lord to do a certain thing and another prophet came along and told him that God told him (the second prophet) that he didn’t have to do it anymore. The first prophet was deceived by the second, and he died. True prophecy cannot be annulled by another prophet unless the first prophet hears directly from the Lord. In Isa 8.20 we have further instruction along the same lines where it says “To the Law (Torah) and the testimonies (Prophets). If they do not speak according to this word it is because they have no light” (understanding=Luke 16.31.) In Acts 17.10-11 it says that the Bereans were “more noble than those in Thessalonica for they received the word (which Paul spoke) with great eagerness, examining daily, to see whether these things were true.” They were not relying on some man-made tradition or “oral” law passed down from the Rabbis, but tested everything against the Word of God. The “word” they were checking was the Torah, Prophets and the Writings (Tanach). Everything Paul taught was from the Tanach and could be verified, and that is what we need to do when confronted with  anyone’s teaching. The problem is that people don’t really know the Scriptures for themselves and they have been taught wrong doctrine. Until a person has been taught the truth, he cannot properly discern enough to test anything. Someone once said discernment isn’t being able to tell the difference between right and wrong, it is being able to tell the difference between right and what is almost right. Another test for a false prophet is whether what they say comes to pass or not. Deut 18.21-22 says “And you may say in your heart,’ how shall we know the word which the Lord has spoken?  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; you shall not be afraid of him.” So, if the person prophesies in the name of the Lord and the event does not come true or come about, then he is a false prophet. Now notice he does it “in the name of the Lord” and that is important. Nobody has all the answers and we see through a glass dimly, so we aren’t always right about some of the things we say or teach. That doesn’t make us a false prophet or teacher. But, if one comes along and says “the Lord has told me” or “the Lord has shown me” and what they say isn’t true, then there is a problem and they are a false prophet or teacher. Yeshua had these concepts in mind when he discussed false prophets and teachers in Matt 17.10-11 where he says “Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You shall know them by their fruits (what they say and teach). Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit (teaching); but a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So, then, you will know them by their fruits” (what they teach). What Yeshua is saying here is that a tree is a person and their fruit is doctrine. A believer will have sound doctrine and an unbeliever will have corrupt doctrine. How can you tell the difference? You test what they say with the Scriptures. External works is not really the intent of “fruits” here because a false prophet can appear righteous outwardly.  The true prophet or teacher will be true to the Word of God where a false prophet cannot. There are many examples of false prophets and teachers today. Many have been taught replacement theology and believe that the Lord has done away with the Torah and that the church has replaced Israel. They have made void the commandments of God by their man-made traditions. Others go around as so-called “prophets” who write books on prophecy and say that the Lord has shown them something, when in reality he didn’t. What they say is going to happen comes and goes and they aren’t called on it. Most of what passes as prophecy today isn’t, and the experts are waterless clouds, peddling their wares to unsuspecting people who buy their words. If a message is so important and from God, where do they get the authority to sell what God has shown them for money (2 Cor 2.17).  Is that what the prophets and true teachers of God did in the days of old? No, they didn’t and neither does a true prophet or teacher today. So, to test the prophets and teachers, check to see if what they say lines up with the Word of God. It doesn’t matter what sign or wonder they perform. Remember, a sign or wonder is given in order to call attention to what that person is saying. God may be testing you to see if you follow the sign and a false prophet or  teacher, or will you follow the Lord. Secondly, if a person makes a prediction in the “name of the Lord” or says “the Lord has told me” or “shown me” and it is not true or it does not come to pass, then disregard them as a false prophet or teacher. Check out what the person says or teaches by the Word of God. That means you must find a teacher who can help you and only then can you begin to master the Word of God for yourself. Remember, anyone can tell you what God said, but not everyone can tell you what God means.

Posted in Articles, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *