Clear Signs You're Dealing With a False Prophet

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Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Be sure to read Part 1 by clicking here!

God's Purpose

What purpose did these events have for Israel?

—It reminded them of God's exclusive claim upon them. He demanded that they worship and revere Him to the exclusion of all other gods.

—No mere replica of one of God's creations could ever reveal the totality of God and thus become worthy of worship.

—Further, God used this occasion to teach them the danger(s) of following ungodly leaders, false prophets, who will lead them astray from His commands into sin.

What Correlation Do These Incidents Have Upon You and Me?

At first glance, you may doubt that any correlation exists between then and now. Our "enlightened" times entice us to think that we surpass those days. Today's technological and educational advances have transformed our world in significant ways beyond the days of Aaron.

However, we share similar dangers from the rise of ungodly leaders. In fact, with few exceptions, false prophets inhabit every Christian congregation. They fool the unwary and gain leadership positions even as pastors in assemblies of believers by deceit, prestige and promises.

How do you decide which Christian leaders you will follow? How many false prophets in the church of Jesus Christ can you identify? None? One? Several?

False Prophets Dread Man

Like Aaron, they fear mankind and adopt practices to relieve that fear. Fear of man appears in different forms:

A physical fear, where we fear for our very lives. We dread that some kind of physical harm could come to us, perhaps even death. That is a very real kind of fear. Perhaps Aaron felt this kind of fear.

An emotional, psychological fear, prevalent in the body of Christ today. It reveals itself in this fashion. Our leaders today, like false prophets, display a fear of man that causes them to give in to mankind's demands because they do not want to lose friendships or families from the congregation. They want a crowd, so they will yield whenever they need to yield in order to encourage people to stay and visitors to come.

A conformity to culture. Too often Christian congregations yield to the siren call of culture out of fear. In a misguided belief, ungodly leaders adopt the fallacy that to win unbelievers to Christ requires compliance with the culture. These influencers fear culture's influence upon people and modify the gospel to suit the world's impact.

The Scriptures remind us:

"The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever puts his trust in the Lord will be safe" (see Prov. 29:25).

False prophets display a fear of man that affects their leadership and leads them into ungodly ways. The dread of man has reared its ugly head. That describes a very real, common experience in the church of Jesus Christ today.

Like Aaron, False Prophets Doubt God

The Scriptures tell us frequently that when we rest upon the arm of the flesh we sin against God, doubting Him. God reminded His children of this truth in Isaiah 31.

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help" (Isa. 31:1).

In Scripture, Egypt always pictures the world and the flesh. "Don't go down to Egypt for help," He said. "They have horses, yes. They have manpower, yes." However, God in essence said, "I am your defender. I am your protector. I am your provider. Trust me."

Trust in God demands that we seek Him. Perhaps you, like many people today, emulate the church and false prophets that pay lip service to seeking after God. We start all of our services and meetings with prayer. After all, this is a church function, and we should pray.

Therefore, we give God His due, almost like a pledge of allegiance to the flag. We will say our one or two minutes of prayer, which describes lip service. God told His people to seek Him with all their hearts:

"You shall seek Me and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13).

To trust God and to find His presence and plans, we must seek Him with all of our hearts. God does not reveal Himself to the flippant. He reveals Himself to the sincere in heart, those who come to Him seeking Him with all of their hearts.

False prophets reveal their unbelief when they fail to take time to seek God for themselves and on behalf of those whom they lead.

False Prophets Depend Upon the World's Methods

Aaron's solution to the demands of Israel followed the world's pattern. Come up with an exciting plan, convince the people to accept it, then they will give to make it happen. It worked, but God was not in it.

Like Aaron, false prophets trust the world's methods when they emphasize worldly schemes in place of godly measures. They develop their plans according to the world's patterns. They leave God out of the picture, and that describes Aaron's sin.

Thus, they lead Christ's followers to trust the ways and means of the world. They think that if it works in the world, it will work for the church. As a result, we follow these false prophets and adopt the world's practices.

Then, we ask God to bless our efforts, and attempt to give God the glory. When it works, we attempt to give God glory for our success. But at no point do we truly trust God and seek His will and purpose. As a result, God did not/does not bless methods that He did not/does not order.

False prophets stress the world's methods without seeking God's plan(s) and purpose(s).

False Prophets Depart From Truth Into False Doctrine

Aaron erred when he taught Israel that the golden calf depicted the god that brought them out of Egypt. His delusion led them astray into sin and God's judgment.

False prophets today follow the same pattern. It often begins when they water down the truth so that they might appeal to the crowd. They fear that if they stand for the truth, they will offend people. Then, people will leave, because they dislike the preacher and his messages. They will not respond to him.

This fear causes false prophets to set aside the truth. Instead, they cater to mankind because of fear, and they want to satisfy the crowd instead of God.

Today, many church leaders display this clear sign of an ungodly, false prophet. They fail to adhere to God's truth, giving way to popular but unbiblical, false doctrines.

Like Aaron, False Prophets Displace the Truth for the Sake of Peace.

Today, false prophets lead Christians into false doctrines in the same fashion as Aaron did. They push for peace at any price, even if it means sacrificing the truth. Many leaders push for unity and want it so badly that they set aside truth to get it. We do not want contention and strife.

Therefore, we set aside the truth to avoid controversy and contention. However, neither unity nor peace occurs. It is merely a cessation of strife. When you set aside the truth, you lose the basis for unity and true peace, which rests upon the truth.

Righteous ends do not sanctify nor make holy ungodly means to attain them. Scripture shows that Jesus did not make peace at any price. In fact, He often brought division among people by inserting the truth.

Jesus said, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34).

The Lord Jesus demands the truth. Granted, the search for the truth and insistence upon it might bring temporary discomfort. However, God's truth ultimately brings freedom, peace and unity based and founded upon the truth, not a false foundation of peace at any price.

The Scriptures confirm this certainty. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees, the false prophets of His day, talking about their false doctrine. He said, "beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matt. 16:6).

The false doctrines of the Pharisees infected the whole culture of Christ's day. He did not cater to it. Instead, He declared the truth, even when it meant that the crowds left Him (John 6:66).

False prophets disregard doctrinal truth and replace it with popular but unbiblical commentary that they vainly believe will promote peace.

Thomas P. Hill, M.A. in ministry, Luther Rice Seminary; author of three books: Wolves in Sheep's Clothing; Homosexuality, Christians, and the Church; and Keys To A Revolutionary Life (available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Tom's website). To invite Tom to speak at your college, church or group, contact him by email at hill_tom@att.net. Visit masterministries.org.


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