If I see a prophet with a large following, red flags go off in my head right away. Usually, when a prophet is surrounded by many people, it is because the people like what they hear.
For the most part, true prophets in the Bible were NOT well-liked by those in authority or the masses because they pointed out sin and tried to steer the listener back to obedience to God’s simple commands. Such a message is not well accepted by a carnal society – or the church, for that matter.
Jesus warned us, saying:
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
This is a “New Testament Warning” straight from our Messiah’s mouth, exhorting the disciple to resist the urge to pander to the crowd. The masses will follow blindly after anyone who will tell them what they want to hear, lavishing upon them esteem and adoration when they should be looking to the One who created them.
But true prophets of the Most High do not need the praise of the people. They look to Him for their acceptance.
Does that Mean EVERYONE who Draws a Crowd is a False Prophet?
Not at all! John the Baptist, Jesus and Moses each had quite a following!
So, how do you discern the difference?
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.
So, what is the fruit of a false prophet? This topic will be explored further in a later chapter. I have also included a teaching of mine entitled “False Prophets, Fruit and the Unwitting Wolf,” [Appendix B] in the back of this book, where you can read further commentary.
Meanwhile, remember: We are looking for “two or three witnesses” from Scripture! If you see someone who claims to be a prophet surrounded by a bunch of adoring fans, displaying any of the other “marks” that we will touch on in this book, don’t listen to them.
Don’t be fearful of speaking out either … you will have your “two or three witnesses” from Scripture. It will be established.
False Prophets have an Insatiable Desire for Status
While studying this principle, I came across something interesting that bears mentioning.
Most of us are familiar with the verse that says “Satan transforms himself into an angel of light.” Paul wrote this while addressing the issue of false apostles who desired to be regarded and honored in the same way he (Paul) was.
But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
Granted, this is talking about false apostles, but the dynamic is the same for a false prophet (both then and now). The false prophets also desire to be regarded as equal to the prophets of the Bible, all the while preaching “another Jesus” (read all of 2 Corinthians 11 for context).
This willingness to teach something other than what the Word really says (preaching “another Jesus”), combined with a desire for regard (honor) is part of what makes them wolves in sheep’s clothing.
They are “transformed” into something false… a deceitful worker. Selah.
False Prophets Revel in the Favor of the People who Promote Them
As I mentioned in the last post, false prophets are likeable people, and the multitudes eagerly flock to hear them give the latest encouraging word because they have itching ears.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Did you notice how it was the PEOPLE who heaped up false teachers?
On Judgment Day, the deceived will find themselves complicit in their own deception. They will not be able to justly accuse the false prophets and say “You deceived us!” because THEY were the ones who promoted, fawned over and worshiped the ones who deceived them.
I’ve found out (the hard way) that a false prophet’s disciples will defend their idolatry with a vengeance, because the “idol” gives them a false sense of security that justifies them in their sin, or at least gives them license to ignore it.
The true prophet, Isaiah, spoke of these people when he said:
Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and note it on a scroll, that it may be for time to come, forever and ever:
Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”
False Prophets Speak Smooth Things
Most modern day prophets preach a Jesus that you can reach the easy way, and thousands of hungry people (many of them youth) are flocking to them, eager for anything to draw them closer to God.
This should be a major red flag to anyone who is truly watching.
I will write more about positive and encouraging words in a later chapter. Just know, for now, that the crowds flock to false prophets because of the “smooth things” that they say. They like what they hear. They like to have the “itchy ear” scratched.
When you see the multitudes being gathered together to listen to the newest teaching or latest revelation, remember that Jesus it would be the FEW who find the NARROW gate into the NARROW way that leads to LIFE.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are MANY who go in by it. Because NARROW is the gate and DIFFICULT is the way which leads to LIFE, and there are FEW who find it.
Do you see the “MANY?”
Remember … Jesus said there would be “FEW!”