Discerning False Prophets
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.” Deuteronomy 13:1-5
How do you judge if a person is a prophet from the Lord or a false prophet? Our verses today give a great gauge for discerning truth and making sure we are not led astray by anyone who is speaking against the will of the Lord. I think with all of the crazy things happening in the world around us we have seen a resurgence in the interest in prophets and because of that I have felt compelled to share some thoughts and insights on how to clearly know when hearing these people how to discern who is speaking truth and who is speaking lies.
First of all I must state that I believe God does still speak through prophets. Nowhere in the bible does it clearly state that prophetic voices will be completely eliminated because the Holy Spirit is now at work in all who believe in Jesus – as some in the church seem to have found a basis in. And also, in the New Testament there are many scriptures not only warning of false prophets and how to discern them from true prophets but also there are scriptures which talk about the spiritual gift of prophesy. From this biblical understanding and from the experience I have had personally with prophetic words, I address this subject with great reverence and poignancy.
In the past when I have been asked to review a particular prophet and his/her advice, the first thing I look to discern from is the main premise of that person’s message. The main question I ask myself is this: “Is this person desiring to bring people back into the will of God, and not only that but also within the law of the original prophets of God and within the teaching of Jesus in the gospel? Or, is this person leading people away from those basic foundations?”
We must remember God does not change in how He deals with His people. He has been consistent from the beginning – reestablishing a love relationship with His people and drawing them back to Him and His basic covenant with them. That covenant in the Old Testament had to do with God’s commitment to the people of Israel and the promise He made with Abraham to create from him a great nation that would be set apart for Him. And, in the New Testament God’s commitment had to do the covenant which was sealed with the blood of Jesus for all who believe in Him and the work done on the cross.
As stated in the first two verses above, if a prophet tells you to “…go after other gods…and serve them…” then stay away from what they are saying. In essence, what these false prophets are trying to do is to change the foundation of the message of the Lord, one is which they do not stand on themselves and one in which they would also not like to see you standing on either. Stick to following God and seeking His ways and I promise you will never be led astray by anyone who desires to pull you away from God with the lies they speak.