DISCERNMENT OF TRUE AND FALSE PROPHETS/TEACHERS/PREACHERS

IMPORTANT NOTE: This study also applys to true and false teachers, and *organizations. (*A church/ministry can also be a true or false prophet/teacher depending on what their doctrine says and how they go about preaching that doctrine.)

A. A true prophet leads people to the Bible and to Jesus.
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:37
Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision. But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. ~ Acts 26:19-20
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every man’s work shall be made manifest. For the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. ~ 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

A false prophet speaks lies, leading people away from the Bible and YahuShua (Jesus) .
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of Truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make mechandise of you, whose judgement now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. ~ 2 Peter 2:1-3
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. ~ Acts 13:6, 8
For the time will come when they will not endure sound  doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves  teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4
One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. ~ Titus 10-14

B. A true prophet confesses that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.
Hereby ye know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. ~ 1 John 4:2

A false prophet brings in damnable heresies, denying the Lord who bought them, and does not proclaim that YahuShua (Jesus) The Messiah came in the flesh.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  ~ 2 Peter 2:1
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world. ~ 1 John 4:3

C. A true prophet seeks to glorify God.
He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory. But he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. ~ John 7:18

A false prophet seeks glory for himself.
For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. ~ Philippians 2:21
He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory… ~ John 7:18

D. A true prophet speaks with God’s wisdom given him by the power of God’s spirit.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. ~ 2 Peter 1:21
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:4-5
Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. ~ Amos 3:7

A false prophet prophesies by his own wisdom or interpretation of Scripture.
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. ~ 2 Peter 1:20-21

E. A true prophet gives warning, edification1, exhortation2, comfort and correction, as directed by God.
So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me. ~ Ezekiel 33:7
Wherefore will ye plead with Me? Ye all have transgressed against Me, saith the Lord. In vain have I smitten your children, they received no correction. Your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. ~ Jeremiah 2: 29-30
Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day, I have even sent unto you all My servants, the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them…But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction. Truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth. ~ Jeremiah 7:25, 28
The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. ~ Jeremiah 28:8
But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself, but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied. For greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpet, that the church may receive edifying. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:3-5

1 edify: to instruct and improve especially by good example; benefit morally or spiritually
2 exhortation: earnesty spoken words of urgent advice or warning

A false prophet speaks ONLY of peace and prosperity. 
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you. They make you vain. They  speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise Me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. ~ Jeremiah 23:16-17

F. A true prophet will show good fruit and will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
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 can not 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 7:16-20
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Against such there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23

False prophets will show evil fruit and will exhibit the corrupt fruit of the devil.
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 can not 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 7:16-20
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. ~ Titus 10-14

G. A true prophet rightly divides the Word of God.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15-16

A false prophet shares opinions and distorts Scripture.
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest1, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. ~ 2 Peter 3:16

1 wrest – to distort; to divert to an improper or unnatural use

H. A true prophet puts his trust in God.
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. ~ Jeremiah 17:7
Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. ~ Isaiah 26:4
For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved. ~ Psalm 21:7

A false prophet puts his trust in men.
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. ~ Jeremiah 17:5

I. A true prophet speaks the true prophecies.
And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come), then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them. ~ Ezekiel 33:33

A false prophet speaks lies and gives false prophecies.
Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the [prophet1], Hear now, Hananiah, the Lord hath not sent thee, but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. ~ Jeremiah 28:15
Send to all them of the captivity, saying, Thus saith the Lord concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie...~ Jeremiah 29:31

Note: 1prophet – In the Bible, both false and true prophets are called “prophets”. One must read the context of the chapter to understand whether the “prophet” is true or false, such as in Hananiah’s case. Hananiah was a false prophet, but Jeremiah was a true prophet, yet both were called “prophets”.

J. A true prophet does not accept money for God’s words.
Throughout the entire Bible, none of God’s prophets ever required money to deliver God’s messages. The entire Bible is a testament of this.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. ~ 1 Timothy 6:6
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. ~ 1 Timothy 6:8

A false prophet charges, or expects payment, for his words.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil-surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the Truth, supposing that gain is godliness. From such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.~ 1 Timothy 6:3-10
No servant can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon1. ~ Luke 16:13
And [through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you2], whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. ~ 2 Peter 2:3
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, a prophet of their own… ~ Titus 10-12

1 mammon: an often personified devotion to material possessions; also wealth
2 [in their greed, these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up] – NIV
3 lucre: monetary gain; profit; also money

K. A true prophet is socially unacceptable to the proud and does not conform to people’s expectations.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

A false prophet is socially acceptable and conforms to people’s expectations.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound  doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves  teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears  from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

L. True prophets are generally disliked.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. ~ Matthew 5:12
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. ~ James 5:10

False prophets are generally liked. 
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets. ~ Luke 6:26

M. There are few true prophets.
Then said Elijah to the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are found four hundred and fifty men. ~ 1 Kings 18:22

Note: We are able to discern from 1 Kings 18:22 that while there were many false prophets of Baal and other gods, there was only one prophet, Elijah, of the True God. In the New Testament, we are shown that there will be more prophets as compared to the Old Testament…”To another, faith by the same Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, discerning of spirits; to another, diverse kinds of tongues; to another, the interpretation of tongues” [1 Corinthians 12:9-10]. Even though there are more true prophets spoken of in the New Testament, the number will be less than the number of false prophets (see the verses below – the word “many”).

There are many false prophets.
Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount  Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the  prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. ~ 1 Kings 18:19
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. ~ Matthew 24:11
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. ~ Matthew 7:22-23
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. ~ 1 John 4:1

N. The prophecies of a true prophet will come to pass.
And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come), then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them. ~ Ezekiel 33:33

The predictions of a false prophet will not come to pass.
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously. Thou shalt not be afraid of him. ~ Deuteronomy 18:22

Beloved, believe not every spirit,
but try the spirits whether they are of God,
because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
~ 1 John 4:1

YahuShua (Jesus) warns us that in these last times, there would be “wolves” in “sheep’s” clothing (Matthew 7:15). Please remember, when testing the prophets or anyone who claims to be a servant of the Most High God, to use all Scripture, but especially the verses we’ve just noted. We cannot take only one verse of the Bible and judge whether or not someone is true or false. We must look at all the evidence and then decide for ourselves…Scripture is the rod by which we shall measure everything, including the validity of those who claim to be God’s servants.

[* All noted definitions from Encyclopedia Britannica CD-Rom 2003]

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Posted on July 17, 2013, in 1. Discernment of True and False Prophecies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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