False prophets are becoming more prominent in today’s age of tolerance and rebellion against God. This culture is eager for an easy religion – one that requires no effort and offers no consequences. This generation more than any other wants to live however they’d like, without boundaries or authority. Unfortunately, there are plenty of teachers and preachers eager to give the people what they want to hear—and usually, they end up making a large sum of money off it.
From feel-good prosperity preachers, to teachers who deny the literal existence of eternity, to religious leaders of the popular earn-your-way-to-heaven efforts; false prophets are everywhere.
2 Timothy 4: 3-4, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."
The Bible warns us not to be bitter about this but to be wise and discerning. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, "Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good."
Here are five ways to detect a modern false prophet.
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1. False prophets preach the gospel of prosperity.
False teachers will lead their congregation to believe that God wants them to be happy and wealthy. Some teachers even take it further, and declare that if a Christian isn’t financially rich, or isn’t emotionally and relationally prosperous, they just “aren’t praying hard enough” or “need to increase their faith”. This type of teaching is dangerous and inaccurate. The Bible clearly states otherwise about the expectations of what this world has to offer.
Matthew 6:19-21, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
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2. False prophets refuse to call out sin.
False teachers don’t like to offend anyone, so they gloss over sin in order to keep their fans happy. They often do this by stating a particular controversial sin such as homosexuality, fornication, adultery, gluttony or greed isn’t a sin after all, so there’s no need to worry or change. They don’t realize that by condoning sin, they’re leading their congregation—happy as they might be—straight to hell.
The Bible teaches that sin is a real issue—and a big one. It’s what separates us from God. It’s what condemns us to hell. Without the intercession of Christ, we would have never been able to get to Heaven or to a right relationship with God. This is the message of the Gospel.
Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Colossians 3:5-6, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming."
1 John 1:8-10, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
To ignore sin is to ignore our need for a Savior. And to ignore the Savior is to reject Him.
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3. False prophets don’t believe in hell or the need for repentance.
False prophets are content to preach that hell is figurative. They believe there’s no need for repentance because Jesus died for everyone. They teach that we should just be grateful and that’s all there is to it.
This lie is especially tricky to decipher, because it sounds true at first. Jesus did die for the sins of the world. But salvation isn’t head knowledge alone. After all—James 2:19, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”
The Bible teaches that to be saved, we must repent. Acts 2:38, “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Hell is real—a real place, with real fire, and real separation from God. Isaiah 5:14, “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.”
2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
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4. False prophets don’t believe Jesus is the only way.
“Multiple paths, one destination” is a common belief in today’s society. For the sake of being tolerant and for fear of offending, recent generations are content to believe that everyone will make it to the same eternal destiny, via whichever religion they choose. The problem with this belief is that it directly contradicts Scripture.
John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus made it perfectly clear that He is the way—the only way—to a relationship with God. Without His sacrifice on the cross and the resurrection from the grave, the veil would have never been torn and we would have never gained access to our Heavenly Father.
Acts 4:12, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
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5. False prophets don’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.
False prophets will teach that the Bible contradicts itself, or has “holes.” This simply isn’t true. Any alleged contradictions in Scripture are a misunderstanding on the part of the reader or are an intentional spin away from the proper context in an attempt to deceive.
The truth is found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."
Isaiah 40:8, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever."
Romans 10:17, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."
True followers of Christ stand on the foundation of the living Word of God. It’s trustworthy and true.
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For more from on discerning prophets in modern times, read:
Do Prophets Still Exist Today?: "Perhaps more than with any other label, we must use extreme caution when either demonstrating this gift or receiving it from others. Some of the signs of a true and authentic prophet are: They have received this gift from the Holy Spirit; they will always agree with scripture or what the Lord has previously spoken, and they announce sins before promising blessings."
7 Sure-Fire Ways to Recognize False Teachers: "A false teacher isn’t going to tell you he’s teaching heresy. In fact, he’ll usually look and sound so sincere and passionate that you wouldn’t know he’s actually twisting God’s Word. The size of the crowds around him won’t tell you much either, since many people have been and continue to be led astray by teaching that pleases their ears. So, how exactly can you tell if someone is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing?” You become a “fruit inspector,” just as Jesus said (Matthew 7:15–16). According to Pastor Shane Idleman of Westside Christian Fellowship, there are 7 telltale signs that can take the wool from our eyes."
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of fourteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her newlywed hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with HarperCollins, LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES, and POCKET PRAYERS FOR FRIENDS with Max Lucado. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.
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Originally published Monday, 17 January 2022.