WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JUNE 17, 2021
TOPIC: IDENTIFYING FALSE PROPHETS BY THEIR DOCTRINE AND PRACTICES
BY T. O. BANSO
“You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit” (Matthew 7:16a New Living Translation).
Most people consider a false prophet to be anyone who has a reputation for making failed predictions. In other words, someone whose predictions are known not to come to pass is a false prophet. This is true and it is one sure way to know a false prophet.
Nevertheless, it is possible for someone’s prophecies to be hundred percent accurate but his doctrine, behavior, and practices are contrary to the Word of God. According to the Bible, such a minister is still a false prophet. But many people hardly regard such as a false prophet.
Because his prophecies come to pass, it is difficult to convince people that he is not a genuine prophet and should be avoided. But this was exactly what God told the children of Israel about such people whom He regarded as false prophets.
God said, “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” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3 New King James Version). Did you see that the fulfilment of a prophecy was not the only way to determine whether a prophet was genuine or not?
God continued, “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 13:4-5 New King James Version).
Christians must not allow themselves to be deceived by the ability of a man or woman to predict what will happen in the future. Such ability does not come from God alone. Some people procure it from another source apart from God.
Don’t focus only on the accuracy of the predictions of a prophet; examine their doctrines – their teachings. What are they teaching? Are they teaching the truth of the Word of God? The Word of God is superior to any prophecy that anybody can give. Are they leading people to serve another god different from the God of the Bible? Or they are leading the people to serve the true God? Are they drawing people’s attention to themselves or directing their attention to God? Do they teach the people to worship God or make the people worship them?
Beware of the yeast of the false prophets! Jesus warned His disciples to take heed and beware of the leaven or yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees (Matthew16:6). However, they didn’t understand immediately what He meant. They thought it was because they had taken no bread (verse 7).
Verses 8-12 say, “But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (New King James Version).
The leaven or yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees was their doctrine. Beware of the yeast of the false prophets. Beware of their doctrine. Paul told Titus, “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1 New King James Version). All ministers of the gospel should let their “words be in agreement with true and right teaching” (Bible in Basic English). They should “say the things which fit sound doctrine” (World English Bible). Beware of the doctrine of the false prophets, which is contrary to the Bible.
The apostle John said believers should test the spirits of those who claim to speak by the Spirit. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3 New King James Version).
False prophets often have a wrong doctrine about God and the things clearly written in the Bible. They feed their followers with strange teachings and hold them in bondage with prophecies. Because of their prophecies, their followers are deceived that they are genuine. They seem to consider the words of their prophets as superior to the Bible! What a delusion!
Paul warned about this: “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. These teachers are hypocrites and liars. They pretend to be religious, but their consciences are dead” (1 Timothy 4:1-2 New Living Translation).
Look at their false teaching: “They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanksgiving by people who know and believe the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it. We may receive it gladly, with thankful hearts. For we know it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (verses 3-5 New Living Translation).
If you find yourself in any place where someone who claims to be a prophet preaches things that are contrary to the Bible, get out of the place no matter how accurate his prophecies are. Leave the place if the rules set for members, ministers, or workers are strange to the Bible. Nobody can be prophesying by the Spirit of God and be contradicting the Bible.
Another way to identify false prophets is by their practices, behavior, or actions. Jesus says by their fruits, we shall know them. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15-20 New King James Version).
How do you identify false prophets? “You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit” (Matthew 7:16a New Living Translation). You will know them by their fruits – behavior, actions, or practices. You will know them by the type of life they live. If they are non-compliant with the Word of God, such persons are false prophets despite the accuracy of their prophecies.
Jesus says in Matthew 12:33, “A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad” (New Living Translation). Identify a true or false prophet by his fruits. Is he living in sin or a holy life? Is he a hypocrite or genuine?
Likewise, Jesus says in Luke 6:43-45, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (New King James Version).
Don’t be deceived by those who claim to be prophets but their lives are full of the works of the flesh – adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like. The Bible says those who practise such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). Such persons are workers of iniquity and Jesus would reject them in the end and tell them that He didn’t know them (Luke 13:25-27).
Watch out for the fruit of the Spirit in the prophet – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Ephesians 5:9 says the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.
Some self-acclaimed prophets engage in fetish practices and could even make their members participate in the same or prescribe to them some unscriptural rites. They are false prophets. Unfortunately, even when they are obviously in error and their lifestyle is sinful, many of their followers continue to celebrate them!
False prophets may be able to prophesy accurately but don’t be deceived by that. By their doctrine and practices or life, you will know them. Jesus Christ has warned that before His return, many false prophets would rise up and deceive many (Matthew 24:11). You have been warned. Don’t be deceived.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, open the eyes of those who have been deceived by false prophets. Expose all false prophets and let their victims know the truth and be made free. Cause all false prophets to repent and surrender their lives to you. Help all genuine prophets not to derail from their calling. I shall not be deceived by false prophets in Jesus’ name.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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