Why We Follow False Prophets: False Prophets are Masters of Disguise
by Tom Hill
You’ve seen them. They appear everywhere promoting the latest health solution, money-making plan, or the “newest scoop” on popular people, complete with anonymous sources. These flim flam artists fool multitudes of gullible folks every day.
Which one just caught you? The one on television with the hot air cooker? The one at the mall with the sharpest knives that cut the toughest foods like a hot knife through warm butter? Or the one that guaranteed retirement income that will last a lifetime, without any risk?
You have seen them and even succumbed to a promise too good to resist. These false prophets entice ordinary people like you and me to trust their messages. The risk-free return offer goes unused. Hardly a day passes that we do not hear the siren call of a false prophet.
False prophets even appear in the Bible, of all places. Throughout their Old Testament history, the Israelites encountered numerous false prophets. Moses identified several of them in the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. King Saul met with the witch of Endor for advice in a time of difficulty. Soon after the successful reign of King David, the nation split into 2 smaller nations because of the influence of false prophets. which resulted in disaster after disaster.
Most of the books of the Old Testament describe the trials and hardships that the Israelites experienced because of their following false prophets. In fact,
“The people who were honored in the Bible were the false prophets. It was the ones we call the prophets who were jailed and driven into the desert.” (Noam Chomsky)
The Bible describes the harmful consequences upon God's people because they followed false prophets. Even as the Israelites followed false prophets to their loss God warned His people through His true prophets of the presence of evil leaders and how to identify them. His counsels went unheeded.
“What does that have to do with me?”, you ask. Everything. Do false Christian prophets exist today? Yes! The technological advances of our day make it easy for evil men and women to broadcast their false messages.
You have seen religious preachers on television promote their enticing messages. These speakers always encourage you to order their books and literature with appealing promises of the favorable impact these materials will have upon your life. Sometimes they offer them free. How can you resist free, Huh? With few exceptions they deliver false messages.
The world-wide internet makes it even easier for imposters to distribute their damnable heresies. Email messages link to their web sites and book offers. How many of these emails do you receive? I know, their offers are hard to resist.
Why do we follow false prophets? What traits separate false prophets from a true prophet of God? How can we identify them? Jesus warned that they would come. Near the end of His famous Sermon On The Mount, He declared:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:13-20)
False Prophets: Their Occurrence
This warning from the Lord Jesus confirms their existence and cautions their potential harm to believers. The Lord cancels all doubt regarding their presence. They will and do exist, and He commands His disciples to watch out for false prophets and to guard against them.
False Prophets: The Duty of Examination
Since the Lord Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets,” we dare not set aside that command. As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to heed His caution for our own spiritual welfare.
According to popular error, no one has the right to examine another person, especially his/her religious beliefs. The advocates of this fallacy believe that the Bible forbids it. They mistakenly apply Christ’s teaching at the beginning of Matthew 7 to this issue, imagining that Scripture forbids judgment.
However, a careful reading of Matthew 7.1-5 shows that Jesus did not forbid judging but instead gave direction on the manner of judging. In fact, the Bible frequently gives guidance in Romans, 1 Corinthians, I Timothy and Revelation on how to examine others and ourselves. We must approach it carefully, knowing that He will judge us in the same manner that we judge others.
Believers have a duty to examine those who come to them as teachers and assume church leadership positions. We must scrutinize their fruits to ensure their authenticity, so that we do not follow false prophets.
The devil’s deceits and the pressure of the world have blinded our eyes and pulled us away from that responsibility. We must examine our leaders thoroughly, because Jesus warned us that false prophets would come. If we ignore this duty, we open the door to deceitful leadership.
False Prophets: Their Deceit