Matthew 7:15-20 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 (emphases added, KJV).
Our primary Sources of discerning the Truth are the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Therefore, we must allow the Holy Spirit to discern for us who is a true prophet of God and who is false. Since He uses the written Word in helping us, it would behoove us all to spend time in it. The more we know Scripture, the easier it is for Him to teach and bring us revelation. The Word is the Standard He uses to show us the validity of the office and what a prophet may say or do. Furthermore, Scripture reveals the character of God. Bottom line, whatever is said or done must line up with His nature before we give them any credence.
The question is what are the signs of a false prophet? Can we make a determination strictly based upon whether or not what a person says comes to pass? Does “reading someone’s mail,” qualify someone as a true prophet of God? Jesus said that we would know them by their fruit, not their acts. Meaning, we will know them by their ways. Verses 21-23 make this very clear: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (KJV). Jesus also said, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24, KJV). It is not a question of what they do, it is a question of what is the spirit behind what they do. Interestingly, Deuteronomy 13 and Ezekiel 13 address false prophets, as 13 is the number of rebellion and apostasy.
Deuteronomy 13:1-3 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (emphasis added, KJV). Clearly, false prophets can predict future events, and do signs and wonders. The issue that makes them false is where they seek to lead God’s people. Simply put, if a prophet that seeks to lead people away from God to serve other gods, is a false prophet; therefore, pay attention to where he points you. False prophets will use prophecy to manipulate others, especially if it benefits them. If someone is constantly pointing you to himself, instead of Jesus, there’s a problem. He should be directing you to the Lord, not himself. Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him (one of the seven angels). And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (emphasis added, KJV). This passage of Scripture plainly tells us that prophecy is about Jesus.
Ephesians 4:12 tells us that Jesus gave us the five-fold ministry (which includes prophets), “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (KJV). That means prophets should be there to help facilitate maturity; not get us reliant on them. False prophets lead to false Christs; therefore, pay attention to how they describe their Jesus. There are cults who claim that they serve the same Jesus; but upon deeper investigation, you will discover they are not the same. This leads to a final point to this first installment of the series: if you truly know the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible, no false Christ or false prophet will be able to deceive you.