The next principle from scripture that I am going to discuss has the potential to eliminate most modern-day prophets from any list that is out there. This may be the one principle in this entire book that will get the most flack.
For this reason, I would like to lay some groundwork before I get into the “meat” of this chapter. Let us lay down some basic, immovable “pillars” in our doctrine.
Can we all agree that:
- God doesn’t change? (Malachi 3:6)
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever? (Hebrews 13:8)
- Jesus was the exact representation of the Father? (Hebrews 1:3)
- Jesus spoke the Father’s Words? (John 14:10)
As professed believers in Jesus as the Messiah, the pillars above should be “givens” for all of us. Let’s see if we can add just a few more points of agreement.
- Sin is disobedience to God’s Law. (1 John 3:4)
- Jesus came to save us from our sin. (Matthew 1:21)
- Repentance is turning away from sin. (Acts 3:19)
- In the New Covenant, we have God’s Law in our hearts and minds. (Jeremiah 31:33)
If we can agree on these basic pillars, then this chapter will probably make sense to you. However, if you find yourself rationalizing these points with sentences that start with “Yeah, but…” then you may have a problem.
Still with me? Good! Let’s move forward…
Prophecy is not About Predicting the Future
People have been trained for years to focus on the prophet’s ability to foretell future events or to know what is generally unknown about a person (aka “read people’s mail”). This is NOT the reason the gift of prophecy has been given to us.
Throughout the Old and New Testament, all of the prophets had one central Message. If you will allow me to paraphrase, it went a little something like this:
Every one of God’s prophets (Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Jesus, et al) preached along these lines. Their unified message was a hardcore message of repentance to a disobedient people, pleading with them to turn from their wicked ways and obey the commands of God so that they could be blessed.
Of course, once the Messiah came, the prophets would also preach that He was the One who fulfilled many of the prophecies spoken of by the prophets of the past, but the core message of repentance was never eliminated. God was (and is) always calling people to repent of their sinful ways so that they could (and can) know and follow His Way.
Likewise, as God’s “spokesman,” the core of a prophet’s message is repentance. The ability to foretell future events has always taken (and should always take) a backseat to this vital component of God’s message to mankind.
God Gave us a “Plumb Line” for Discerning a Prophet
The Father gave to the children of Israel (and us) ironclad instructions for discerning between true and 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.
This passage is pretty straightforward. God is telling us that we are to ignore the prophet who entices us away from His commands … even if he/she performs signs and wonders!
When signs and wonders are performed apart from a message of repentance from sin and turning back to God’s Commands, they are no longer validations of a person’s ministry (Mark 16:17). They become tests from God!
Do you love Him enough to walk in His commands, or not?
So who would ever dare to try and entice us away from God’s commands? Shouldn’t we be able to spot these people easily?
Yes, we should, but unfortunately, this hasn’t been happening.
False Prophets Entice us by Manipulating the Words of God
Today’s false prophets will never come right out and say, “Hey! Let’s go serve Baal instead of God!” Instead, they subtly manipulate the Word of God to fit their particular prophecies, changing it to say what THEY want it to say. This hidden deception is disguised with soft, eloquent and CONVINCING speech that will affect a person emotionally, if they don’t know the Word.
If weeping, exhilaration or excitement appears, a false prophet will quickly attribute it to the Spirit of God, and the sheep will believe the claim because they “felt” something.
God told us early on in Scripture:
You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commands of the LORD your God which I command you.
This instruction can be used as a rock-solid foundation for us to stand on, when discerning false prophets and prophecy.
Everything that would be considered “the Word of God” from that time forth MUST line up and agree with God’s original words to the children of Israel.
That means that NONE of the prophets’ writings, Jesus’ words in the Gospels, nor any of Paul’s epistles can contradict God’s words in the Old Testament – otherwise they would count as adding to and/or diminishing God’s words.
A false prophet (and a false teacher) will cherry-pick a verse or two out of the New Testament, take it out of its context and create a whole doctrine out of it. And because the masses think “Well, hey… it’s in the Bible,” they will swallow the lie without the slightest hesitation.
Little do they know that they are being enticed to depart from the ways of our unchangeable God. The Bible attributes this to “the spirit of harlotry.”
For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God.
What would a harlot do? She would offer you a false intimacy without a covenant. In church services where this alleged “prophetic spirit” is being manifested, there is indeed an “intimacy” that takes place, but it is deceptive in nature. You can definitely “feel” something flowing. It affects your emotions, your thoughts, and even your equilibrium. If you do not have a solid foundation in the Word of God, it is likely that you will be led to believe that what you are feeling is actually God’s Holy Spirit, because it feels so good to your flesh.
But a false intimacy is not the only manifestation of the spirit of harlotry in the prophetic movement. Other manifestations such as sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, addiction, compromise and other lewd behaviors occur frequently behind closed doors.
Because the false prophets will not preach repentance or the true Word of God, this spirit of harlotry is allowed to enter in and wreak havoc in churches, leading multitudes astray.
False Prophets Entice us by Getting Our Focus Off of God’s Word
The false prophets preach a message that focuses on anything BUT the commands of God. The message of repentance is cheapened (or outright ignored). The commands of the Most High are considered obsolete, or “done away with.”
Turning your attention from the written Word of God, the false prophet will get you to pursue other loves, other phenomena (feathers, gems, glory clouds) and other extra-biblical spiritual exercises… all under the pretense of having a new revelation, prophecy, or a special anointing from God.
Just like the Pharisees of old, false prophets will subtly promote and amplify their man-made doctrines (in the form of new revelation, etc.) OVER the Word of God.
This also causes congregations to open wide the door for the spirit of harlotry to enter.
They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the LORD.
…They DO NOT know the Lord…
Ouch! What an indictment against our modern day prophetic churches! These verses in Hosea mirror the words that Jesus will speak to the false prophets on that day.
And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
Walking Away from the Commands is Harlotry
Like Satan tempting the Son of God in the wilderness, false prophets will only remain true to the Word of God if it builds their own kingdoms. If speaking the Word of God is going to penalize their finances or popularity, they will find ways to twist the Word so that the masses will be satisfied and their “ministries” remain intact. They may say things that SOUND like His Words; they may even SOUND loving and filled with supernatural lingo – but their purpose is to distract you and lead you AWAY from His commands and lead you TOWARD the “newer revelation” or “divine insight” of the speaker.
If you read the Word of God, you will find that He always equates walking away from His commands with spiritual harlotry (or adultery). There is no gray area – it’s black and white. And if YOUR God doesn’t change and MY God doesn’t change, He still sees it the same way!
When a prophet boasts of divine revelation or a message from heaven, it should get your attention. If the message leads you to repentance and a desire to reverence and obey God’s commands, that’s a good message.
If, however, it leads you in any other direction, the “red lights” should be going off in your spirit.
You see, the prophet may or may not realize it, but when his “divine revelation” does not call the people back to God’s commands, he is implying that his own “revelation” is more important than obedience to what God wrote long ago through the hand of His servant Moses (and the prophets who came after him).
The prophet’s message may sound appealing and feel good, but in the end, it’s all harlotry.
Take the words of this true prophet to heart, for they are still applicable today.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.