Lying Prophets / by Patti Greene, Greene Pastures by Patti [From Email notifications, click the title for best web viewing]
Jeremiah–a man consecrated by the Lord before he was formed in the womb—was appointed to be a prophet to the nations. He was to go and proclaim whatever the LORD commanded him to speak. Being called in his youth, Jeremiah’s low confidence level caused him to ask God how he should speak; the LORD assured him not to be afraid as He would be with him and He would put His words into Jeremiah’s mouth.
His calling was tough. At times Jeremiah wanted to give up. His life was reduced to rejection and anguish by those who would not listen to his warnings of famine, death and sin, as he pleaded for the restoration of Israel and Judah. Jeremiah’s calling was wearisome to him, even to the place of his complaining that his mother bore him to become “a man of strife and contention to the whole land” (Jeremiah 15:10). His life consisted of criticizing evil, leaders, and idolatry existing in the nations.
One of Jeremiah’s most renowned acts was his exposure of the lying prophets of his time (also known as “false prophets”) in Jeremiah 23:9-10. There were Godly prophets and ungodly prophets. The problem was that the two co-existed side-by-side in the land and the ungodly prophets were outnumbering the Godly prophets. The people were believing the ungodly prophets and it was Jeremiah’s job to convince them otherwise.
At this point, let’s let Scripture speak for itself. While Jeremiah’s heart was broken, he speaks of lying prophets and how to recognize them.
How to Recognize a Lying Prophet
- They fill you with vain hopes (Jer. 23:16).
- They speak visions of their own minds (Jer. 23:16).
- They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, “It shall be well with you” (Jer. 23:17).
- They say “No disaster shall come upon you” to everyone who follows their own heart (Jer. 23:17).
It is interesting why the people believed the lying prophets and not the true prophets from the LORD. The people did not stand in the counsel of the LORD to see and hear God’s word. If they would have, they themselves would have been proclaiming God’s word. And if they were in the presence of God’s holy word, the people would have turned from their evil ways and deeds.
Jeremiah was charged with telling the people not to listen to what the false prophets were sayings. He told the people that the lying prophets were dealing in heresies and deceiving their hearts. Jeremiah’s own prophecies were not welcome, just as Jesus’ prophecies were not welcome in New Testament times. Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15-16a). B.H. Caroll, the late President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, these lying prophets “preached what the people wanted them to preach. They felt the pulse of the people and then shaped their message accordingly.” ¹
Do people and pastors today feel the pulse of the people and shape their message accordingly? Of course, they do! Late Pastor Adrian Rodgers once said,
It [is] good to know how to spot a counterfeit dollar, but far more important to spot a counterfeit prophet or teacher! Counterfeit money is not nearly as bad as a counterfeit faith. ²
How to Recognize a Lying Prophet Today
Basically, it is like how lying prophets were recognized in Jeremiah’s time, but let’s be a little more current and add on to what is already mentioned above.
- They do not possess the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
- They see false visions and lying divination (Ezek. 13: 6-7).
- The world usually speaks very highly of them (Luke 6:26).
- They are not led by the Holy Spirit in interpreting the Bible (Rom. 8:14).
- They do not teach that salvation is only through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:1-3).
- They may lack personal integrity and be led easily into sin (Pro. 20:11).
- They speak what the people what the people are craving to hear (Isa. 30:9-11).
In 5 Signs of Ear-Tickling Preachers, author Michael Brown, tells a story about a friend who recently learned the owner of a local strip club was attending the same church that he and his family attended.
“His sister-in-law approached the pastor and asked him about it, and the pastor said, “At least he’s coming to church. That’s better than not coming at all.”
That would be true, except that the pastor never said a word about sin and never said anything that would make the man uncomfortable about his exploitation of young women (and others). And so rather than this man getting convicted of his sins and discovering the life-changing love of God, he went home deceived.” ³
Just as in Jeremiah’s time, we will encounter lying, false prophets who will try to deceive both believers and non-believers. Let us remember that it is Christ who has set us free and we must devote ourselves to the Holy Spirit—praying always that we will not be deceived by one claiming to represent our LORD and Savior, but does not. False prophets can perform acts as easily as true prophets (Jer. 18:10-22); thus, our gaze should remain on Jesus and we must ask for his discernment daily.
Dear Father, Thank you for loving me. Thank you that you have given me the ability to discern righteous prophets from lying prophets. Let me always depend upon your Spirit to guide me unto all truth. Let your light so shine in my life that distinguishing good from evil becomes part of my nature. As I read my Bible, teach me to be sensitive to your Holy Spirit as I face choices in this earthly life. I love you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
¹ Caroll, B.H. The Prophets of the Chaldean Period. Nashville: Broadman, 1948.
² Rodgers, Adrian. “How to Spot a Counterfeit.” www.oneplace.com. Accessed 9 Oct 2016.
³ Brown, Michael. 5 Signs of Ear-Tickling Preachers. Charisma News. June 9 2014.
Sorensen, David. False Prophets Today. www.godisrealtoday.com. Accessed 9 Oct 2016.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version containing the Old and New Testament. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001. [All verses come from the English Standard Bible unless noted otherwise]
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