The world is full of people claiming to be prophets. Just as in Bible times, God expects us to check these people out before falling for everything they say. Deuteronomy 18 has long been the place to hang one’s hat when determining a true prophet of God.
Open your Bible and look through these verses in that chapter.
1) A true prophet of God will claim to speak in God’s name, v 20. Certainly that isn’t all that matters but you can weed out a lot from the get-go with that one simple rule.
2) A true prophet of God will not use “abominable practices” like augury, astrology, and necromancy. He will not claim to speak to the dead or read animal entrails or tea leaves or anything else a sane mind knows is illegible, 10-14.
3) The predictions of a true prophet of God will always come to pass, not 90% of the time, not 95% of the time, but every time, v 22.
On the other hand, God does not make it His business to run around making sure everything a false prophet predicts doesn’t happen. Let me take you to another passage.
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, Deut 13:1-5.
Sometimes these people get it right—not all the time by any means, but enough to fool some people. They get it right because they are observant, because they know how to get you to tell them what they need to know—we give away far more than we realize. So then, how do we tell? 4) If a prophet tells you to do anything contrary to God’s law, he is not a prophet of God, no matter how many times he seems to “get it right” with his predictions. That puts a burden upon us to know that Law, but God expects that of us too. Even in the New Testament we are told to “prove the spirits.” It is my responsibility not to be fooled.
5) And hand in hand with that we can look at Gal 1:8,9. If anyone teaches a gospel that contradicts the revealed word of God, we are not to listen even, as in that passage, to an angel from Heaven.
6) Now take one more step back to Deuteronomy 18. It isn’t just what the man teaches, it’s how he lives. If his life does not match the righteous life God expects and teaches in His word, he is not a true prophet of God, v 9-14.
Just imagine if people had followed these rules when false prophets came along. Just imagine the difference in Bible history. Just imagine the difference in more modern history. Would David Koresh have caused the tragedy at Waco? Would Jim Jones have persuaded people to not only “drink the Kool-Aid,” but give it to their children?
We live under a government that tries to protect people from their own stupidity. That’s why you see those strange warnings on things.
Do not put any person in this washer.
Do not use lighted match or open flame to check fuel level.
Use care when operating a car (on a dog’s bottle of pills).
Danger: do not hold the wrong end of a chain saw.
Warning: this product moves (on a scooter).
(On an iron-on patch) Do not iron while wearing shirt.
If you cannot read warnings, do not use this product.
God gave you His warnings in His book. He figures you are smart enough to read it and figure it out. And if you do, that should take care of most every modern “prophet” you happen to run into.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love, 1 John 4:1-8