What does the Bible
say about false prophets?

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QUESTION: What does the Bible say about false prophets?

ANSWER: The Bible does list several false prophets by name. Some of these include Balaam, who was hired by Moab's king to curse Israel (Numbers 22 - 24). Zedekiah lied and predicted King Ahab would be victorious in battle against the Syrians (1Kings 22:11 - 24). Hananiah tried to refute Jeremiah's 70-year prophecy (Jeremiah 28:1 - 17). Ahab and Zedekiah were liars whose death Jeremiah predicted (Jeremiah 29:21). Shemaiah taught people to rebel against God (Jeremiah 29:24 - 32). Noadiah was one of several false prophets during Nehemiah's time (Nehemiah 6:14). Elymas (also called Bar-Jesus) was a sorcerer who confronted the apostle Paul on the island of Cyprus (Acts 13:6). Jezebel was a teacher of immorality in the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:20).

God has many things to say about those who teach lies. Jesus gave us warning about how these teachers come to us in disguise, seeming to be gentle creatures when they are, in fact, very dangerous people (Matthew 7:15). Christ himself told us that we can detect who are false prophets by their fruits, meaning by what they teach compared to the Bible (Matthew 7:16).

True servants of the Eternal ultimately lead people to him, while those who are false lead others to THEMSELVES and to increasing their own power, glory and wealth (1Timothy 6:5, 10, 2Peter 2:3).

Those who serve God speak the complete truth and WANT people to prove out their words in the Bible and to 'test the spirits' (1John 4:1). Those who are not true, however, tell a whole bunch of lies and half-truths, mixed with just enough truth to seem credible (see 2Peter 2:1). Their ultimate authority is themselves.

3. If anyone teaches any different doctrine, and does not adhere to sound words, even those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine that is according to godliness, 4. He is proud and knows nothing. Rather, he has a morbid attraction to questions and disputes over words, from which come envy, arguments, blasphemy, wicked suspicions, 5. Vain reasonings of men who have been corrupted in their minds and are destitute of the truth - men who believe that gain is godliness. FROM SUCH WITHDRAW YOURSELF. (1Timothy 6:3 - 5, HBFV throughout)

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True prophets are not concerned with what people think of them or whether others do not like to hear what God has to say to them. Those that are phonies are very concerned about their image and greatly desire to have the admiration and respect of the people.

With true prophets, "what you see is what you get." They do not pretend to be something they are not and do not seek to deceive people. They serve out of love. Those who are false masquerade and pretend to represent God and want people to believe their motives are purely altruistic (see 2Corinthians 11:12 - 14, Philippians 1:15 - 18). In their hearts, however, they pursue very selfish goals and use people as if they were disposal to get what they DEMAND.

Prophets that have not come from God teach doctrines that sound like they come from the Bible but are calculated to destroy others. Those truly inspired, however, speak to build people up and to warn them so that they can repent, change, and draw closer to God.

The book of Deuteronomy states how serious a matter it is for someone to be a false spokesman of God and how Israel was to punish such people.

5 But put to death any interpreters of dreams or prophets that tell you to rebel against the Lord, who rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. Such people are evil and are trying to lead you away from the life that the Lord has commanded you to live. They must be put to death, in order to rid yourselves of this evil. (Deuteronomy 13:5 - 6)

The Bible warns, many times, that we are to be wary of false prophets. They are characterized as ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:16, Acts 20:29) and foxes (Ezekiel 13:4) who are cunning, clever and always looking for new people in which to deceive and take advantage of. Verses to study this subject further include Deuteronomy 13:1 - 5, 18:21 - 22, Jeremiah 14:14, 23:1 - 40, Matthew 7:15 - 20, 15:2 - 20, 23:2 - 33 and Luke 11:38 - 52.

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