This blog post is all about false prophets
Hey friends, I’m happy to be sharing this article on signs of a false prophet! ❤️
False prophets have been present in the history of Judaism/Christianity for hundreds of years, and they remain a current threat to believers today. As society has evolved, so too have the tactics used by false prophets to deceive people into following them or their teachings.
However, there is finger-pointing in today’s society as to who is true and who is false. Some would say that they are able to identify those that are heretical. But what qualifies a person as a false prophet, or how can you spot one?
This blog post will discuss false prophets and their tactics in-depth so you can be better prepared to identify them. I will also discuss how we can protect ourselves and our faith from their influence. Lastly, I’ll explore what the Bible says about false prophets and why being aware of their schemes is so important.
By the end of this blog post, you should have a much better understanding of false prophets in Christianity and how to spot them.
Ready? Let’s go!
What is a false prophet?
To better understand a false prophet, we need to know who a true prophet of God is. A true prophet of God is part of the 5-fold ministry.
Here is a pictorial that gives a quick summary of some duties of a true prophet of God:
You can read more about it later in my other post, “The Ultimate 5-Fold Ministry Guide!”
In regards to false prophets, they are typically individuals who present themselves as religious experts or spiritual authorities with special insight into God’s will. They may claim to have received divine revelations or visions that lead them towards certain teachings or paths of action.
Despite these claims, most false prophets’ ideas do not align with traditional Christian teachings; in fact, they lead people away from the Lord Jesus Christ. They may even distort or contradict the Bible or use it as a tool to promote their own goals.
Who is a False Prophet, According to the Bible? (Bible verses about False Prophets)
I will mention more of this in the final section, but I feel it is necessary to go over who a false prophet is using scripture.
False prophets are mentioned in several passages throughout the Bible. This section will look at what false prophets are and what qualities they possess, as described in these biblical passages.
- Matthew 24:11 describes them as deceivers who deceive even the elect through signs and wonders.
- Acts 16:16 explains how false individuals can be accurate at times but they aren’t getting their intelligence from the Holy Spirit. In this verse, we see that a lady who had a strange spirit was able to identify Paul and Silas as “servants of the Most High God.”
- Matthew 7:15 instructs us to be aware of false prophets who present themselves as sheep yet are wolves in disguise. These false prophets lead people astray by speaking empty words and teaching falsehoods.
- Romans 16:17 reminds us that we should watch out for those who cause divisions among believers and teach strange doctrines.
- Philippians 1:15-18 warns us of those who teach a different doctrine than the one taught by God. These false individuals should be avoided, as they preach an empty gospel and do not edify believers.
- 2 Timothy 2:14-26 & Chapter 3 describes false teachers but I believe this is super relevant to false prophets as well. They are defined as those who “creep into households.” In the NLT, it states these people have “depraved minds and a counterfeit faith.” These false individuals are described as ungodly people who disregard authority and indulge in their own desires.
- Finally, 2 Timothy 3:5 describes false teachers as those with a “form of godliness but deny its power.” These individuals do not seek God’s truth but instead twist scripture to suit their own needs and ideas.
3 False Prophets in the Bible
Throughout the Bible, numerous examples of false prophets have sought to deceive people and lead them astray from God’s truth.
Let us explore some of these false prophets and discover why they are considered wrong according to Christianity.
(i) Simon the Sorcerer
Simon the Sorcerer was a figure in Samaria during the time of Acts 8:9-24. He amazed the people with his sorcery and boasted of being someone great, thus receiving attention from those around him. People even exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God” (Acts 8:9).
However, Peter chastised Simon for his wickedness!
Here are some signs of this false prophet:
- Boasting of being someone great and receiving attention, as Simon did (Acts 8:9).
- Deceived people, and the people praised Him, saying, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.”
- Trying to buy the power that Peter and John had with money (Acts 8:19–20).
- Displaying wickedness (Acts 8:23).
- Allowing the people to worship them instead of God (Acts 8:21-22).
- Refusing to repent for their sins (Acts 8:24).
Balaam was initially a good prophet of God who faithfully followed the Lord’s commands. Unfortunately, he later began to use his gifts for personal gain and succumbed to the temptation of material wealth.
This is demonstrated in Numbers 22:7-14 where Balak offered him money if he could curse Israel. This marked Balaam’s descent into being a false prophet.
Here are some signs of this false prophet:
- Seeking personal gain and material wealth. It says he accepted a fee for divination (Numbers 22:7-14).
- Advocating the worship of false gods and encouraging Balak to entice Israel to sin (Read Revelation 2:14).
- Allowing himself to be swayed by money and bribery instead of adhering to the Lord’s commands (Numbers 22:18).
- He was going down a reckless path (Numbers 22:32)
- Trying to curse God’s people (Numbers 24).
- Refusing to listen to the Lord’s warnings and only focusing on his own desires (Numbers 22:20-21).
P.S. This ultimately showed the sovereignty of God and how there are rules of engagement or Spiritual laws. If you obey God’s commands and don’t engage in sin, there is no legal ground for the enemy to curse you.
(iii) False Prophet of Revelation
Revelation 19:20 describes the false prophet who is said to have “deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image.”
This false prophet is believed to be part of a the unholy trinity along with an antichrist and Satan himself. He will claim to have authority from God but, in reality, serve only to lead believers astray.
Here are some signs of this false prophet:
- Working with the Antichrist to deceive people in an attempt to draw them away from God (Revelation 19:20).
- Performing signs and wonders that come from Satan in order to deceive people further (Revelation 19:20).
- Deceived or deluded people to receive a mark of the beast on their right hand or forehead (Revelation 13:20).
These are just three examples of false prophets in the Bible that have served only to deceive and lead people away from God’s truth. Christians need to be aware of them and not be fooled into believing their lies or manipulated into sinning against God. We must seek wisdom from the Lord so that we may not be misled by those who would seek to deceive us.
Myth of false prophets/Not everyone is FALSE!
False prophets and faulty doctrines have long been a source of confusion in the church.
Here is the thing, though: not every person we call a “false prophet” is false. They may just have the wrong doctrine. Why do I say this? Some may be misguided or present with weak, unsound theology. These people have failed to study the Word to show themselves approved, as stated in 2 Timothy 2:15.
I know that the debate over false prophets versus false doctrine can often be confusing and overwhelming for Christians. It is important to remember that while both are serious matters, they should not be confused with one another.
The Bible speaks of false prophets and doctrine, so it is important to differentiate the two.
- False prophets are people who claim to have the authority of God on their side but ultimately lead people away from the true teachings of Jesus Christ and Christianity.
- On the other hand, false doctrine is the teaching of misinterpreted or wrong beliefs about Christianity or foundational Biblical views.
It is important to recognize that both false prophets and faulty doctrines can be present in a church body, but it does not mean all leaders are false prophets.
In this fallen world, we will encounter people who are misguided and lack knowledge about doctrine, theology, and the Spirit of God. Many shortcuts have been taken with the rise of overnight online personalities, and there can be a temptation to overlook foundational doctrine and process.
The best advice is to be a student of the Word and well-versed in the things of The Spirit. We must recognize our flaws and shortcomings but also be wise when discerning between false prophets and faulty doctrines.
Seek God’s guidance whenever you encounter doubt or confusion in the church. Pray and study His Word to ensure your faith is rooted in truth and not swayed by false teachings. However, let’s debunk this myth that everyone with the wrong doctrine is automatically a false prophet!
God uses flawed vessels- Don’t be quick to judge
Now, I’ve noticed many YouTube channels pop up, and their sole purpose isn’t to win souls but to condemn leaders in the Body of Christ.
While I do believe in the need to correct and discern, some channels are driven by the” algorithm.” A lot of these social media platforms reward strife. Therefore, some people just jump on the bandwagon if it’s popular to attack a certain leader. So be aware of this. Anyway, I will speak more of this towards the end of the post.
Let’s move over to a pertinent issue: It is also important to remember that God can use flawed vessels to bring about a greater good, even if misguided.
I wrote a post on 21 people in the Bible who turned from bad to good. You will see that God often chose the least likely because they were willing. I always think of someone like Jehu, who was really rough around the edges but was tasked to deal with Jezebel, and on day 1, the job was done and dusted.
Likewise, what did the Lord tell Samuel? He said, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (see 1 Samuel 16:7)
17 Signs of a False Prophet in Christianity
Before I list the 17 warning signs, I want to provide a quick disclaimer:
⚠️Disclaimer for False Prophets: I want to caution every reader to be especially discerning when considering prophets. The Bible is the only reliable source of truth and should always be used as a litmus test. While I have provided some warning signs that may assist in recognizing potential false prophets, it is not an exhaustive list. In some cases, false prophets can be difficult to distinguish from the real deal. Therefore, I encourage my readers to remain spirit-led and use discernment in all matters.
Here are the 17 signs:
1. Lead people away from God
False prophets will not preach from the Bible as their ultimate authority but instead preach from flesh or books of their own.
Deuteronomy 13:1-4 states, “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere.”
2. Fruit is not godly
False prophets will often exhibit a lack of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Instead, they might be motivated by greed or power.
3. Legalistic or religious
False prophets may focus too much on religious laws and regulations rather than what Jesus teaches us (Matthew 23:1-3). They might also be dogmatic in their beliefs, not allowing for any opposing opinions.
4. Over-emphasis on encounters
False prophets will often promote encounters that go against the Word of God. For example, they may preach about levitating (new age beliefs) or promoting the use of divination or fortune-telling (Deuteronomy 18:10).
5. Mix beliefs
False prophets might mix different beliefs together, such as traditional mysticism, new age practices, and Christianity.
This goes against God’s Word, which tells us not to add or subtract from his teachings (Deuteronomy 4:2).
6. Materialism or motivated by the love of money
False prophets may be more interested in what they can get from people than in teaching God’s Word (2 Peter 2:3).
They might push followers for money, exaggerate their ministry accomplishments or ask for donations outside of tithing.
7. Discourage flock from listening to other people and giving
False prophets will often discourage followers from listening to other people or giving to other ministries. They might even use fear tactics in order to keep members loyal (2 Timothy 1:7).
8. Twisting Scripture
A false prophet will twist scripture to suit their own ends in order to draw people away from the truth of God and His Word. This can include teachings that are not supported by the Bible, as well as other teachings that are contrary to the Word of God.
Scripture warns us against this type of behavior: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life” (Revelation 22:18-19).
9. Presenting Themselves as the Solution:
False prophets often present themselves as the only solution and source for people’s problems. They may speak of their own power or ability to heal or bring prosperity rather than drawing glory and honor to Christ.
This contradicts Scripture, which teaches that Jesus is the one true source of salvation, healing, and provision for us (John 3:16; Colossians 1:13-14).
As a result, their flock becomes fully dependent on them to make simple life decisions and therefore can fall prey to their predatory ways!
10. Taking Sin Lightly
False prophets will often take sin lightly or even encourage it. They may justify certain sins as being acceptable to God when the Bible clearly states that all sin is against Him (Romans 6:23).
11. Miracles and Signs Not from the Holy Spirit
False prophets may provide “miracles” and “signs” that are not of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture warns us to be wary of those who claim to have a special word from God or perform signs and wonders that are not of the Spirit, as these could actually be demonic (Matthew 7:15-16).
12. Not Bringing Glory to God
False prophets will not bring glory to God through their words and deeds. Instead, they seek to promote themselves or may even encourage sin in the name of God.
This contradicts what Scripture teaches us about loving and serving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).
13. Preaching a love for money
False prophets often preach a love for money, fame, and power over humility. They may appeal to people’s greed and selfish desires in order to draw them away from the truth of God.
Scripture teaches us that while we are promised blessings for being obedient to God, these blessings are not related to material gain (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).
14. Not Emphasizing Repentance and Obedience
False prophets will not emphasize repentance or obedience to God’s commands.
Instead, they may even encourage people to be disobedient or teach false doctrines about grace that are contrary to Scripture (Romans 6:15-16).
15. Making Themselves the Center of Attention
False prophets will often make themselves the center of attention and seek to draw people away from Christ.
Scripture states that our focus should always be on Jesus and his teachings, not on ourselves (Colossians 3:2).
16. Extreme practices or “cult-like”
Some false prophets are very overt and have cult-like tendencies. It may be obvious to the people outside looking in; however, the innocent may be brainwashed into thinking they are following the true servant of the Lord.
Recently, hundreds of people in Kenya were indoctrinated into a cult that forced them to “fast” and meet Jesus in Heaven.
17. Claiming a “Special” Word from God
False prophets may claim that they have a special word from God or some kind of revelation that is not from the Bible.
While we should always be open to hearing God’s voice, any teaching or revelation must be tested against Scripture and cannot contradict it (1 John 4:1).
11 Steps to Take When Dealing with a False Prophet
You may find yourself in a difficult position when faced with false teachings and prophecies. It can be hard to know what to do when someone is spreading lies and heresy about the Lord.
Here are eleven steps you should take if you encounter a false prophet:
1. Be Spirit Led:
As a child of God, you are called to be led by the Spirit. Don’t let anyone else lead you astray or convince you to follow anything contradicting what you know is true from your faith and understanding.
Trust the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your decisions in how to respond to a false prophet.
2. Understand they are Redeemable:
Remember that everyone is redeemable in the eyes of God. Even if someone spreads false teachings and prophecies, you can still pray for them to be restored and brought back into the right relationship with God. Don’t forget that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us all of our sins, no matter how big or small.
Pray for the false prophet and for all those who are being misled by their teachings. Ask God to reveal the truth and to give you wisdom on how to respond. He can work in powerful ways if we surrender our will to Him.
4. Exposing False Teachings:
If it is revealed through prayer that exposing the false prophecies is the way to go, then you can do so. But make sure you are led by the Holy Spirit before taking action or publicly exposing the person.
5. Don’t make a ministry of exposing people; it’s really toxic:
When dealing with false teachers, make sure you don’t become a ministry of “exposing” people. It’s one thing to stand up for truth and righteousness, but it’s another to be consumed by pointing out the wrongs of others.
6. Love them:
You can still love those who are spreading false teachings without supporting what they’re saying. Even if it’s hard to do, remember that they are made in God’s image and are a part of His family.
Discernment is essential regarding false prophets and faulty doctrines. This is why it is important to be a student of the Word and well-versed in the Spirit. Pray for God’s guidance whenever you encounter any type of doubt or confusion in the church, and seek out His truth so that your faith remains rooted in Him.
8. Practice Grace:
On top of discernment, grace should also be practiced when it comes to someone’s beliefs or actions. Judging someone because of their doctrine or theology can hurt our witness and make us look like hypocrites. We must be open-minded and remember that God can use flawed vessels to bring about a greater good, even if they are misguided.
9. Be a Berean (Study the scripture):
Ensure that you do your due diligence and study scripture. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.”
Also, If something does not align with Scripture, it should be rejected (Acts 17:11). We must always seek God’s truth and do our best to remain faithful.
10. Be Rooted in Faithfulness and Truth:
Above all, let us be rooted in faithfulness and truth. We must rely on the Bible for our source of truth rather than being swayed by cultural trends or what looks good from an outward perspective. May we stay humble and open-minded as we study His Word and strive to make Him known.
Finally, opt out of their teachings if it is leading you away from Christ and His truth. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled away from what is true; instead, cling to Scripture for guidance and direction. This way, you can stay on track with your faith journey without being led astray.
10 dangers for false prophets (bonus section)
In this bonus section, I want to summarize all the dangers that I’ve kind of alluded to throughout the post. Here they are:
- Leading others astray: False prophets often claim to have a special revelation or interpretation of the Bible, which can lead followers down a dangerous path away from biblical truth.
- Manipulation and control: False prophets may use fear tactics or manipulate their followers in order to gain control over their lives, thoughts, and finances.
- Exploitation: Some false prophets may use their position of authority to exploit their followers for personal gain, whether it be financial or sexual.
- Spiritual confusion: False prophets can create confusion and uncertainty in the minds of believers, causing them to doubt their faith and question the teachings of the Bible.
- Division within the church: False prophets often sow discord and division within churches, causing rifts between believers and creating a toxic environment.
- Distraction from true salvation: False prophets may focus on superficial or irrelevant aspects of Christianity, distracting followers from the true message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
- Misrepresentation of God’s character: False prophets may distort the image of God by portraying Him as harsh, judgmental, or unforgiving, leading people away from His loving and forgiving nature.
- False hope: False prophets may promise blessings or miracles to their followers, creating false hope and causing disappointment when these promises do not come true.
- Lack of accountability: False prophets often operate without any form of accountability, allowing them to continue deceiving and misleading their followers without consequences.
- Damage to faith and trust in God (Church Hurt): Ultimately, false prophets can cause significant damage to an individual’s faith and trust in God, as well as their relationship with the church and other believers.
And that’s it, folks, false prophets.
I hope you enjoyed this post!
God calls us to be wise and discerning, just as He has already done for us. May we boldly follow Him in our pursuit of truth.
The Bible gives us instruction regarding false prophets: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15). We must be cautious and discerning in our faith, as false prophets may bring confusion into the truth of God’s Word.
We can protect ourselves by studying the Bible deeply, praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit, and seeking out wise counsel from trusted church leaders. This way, we can prevent being misled by false teachings or those who are not sent by God.