Want To Spot False Prophets?

 

Excerpt From The Book, Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

Want to Spot False Prophets?

10 Easy to Follow Tips to Spot Them

False Prophets: They Are Ungodly Leaders

By Thomas P Hill

How many false prophets in the Church of Jesus Christ can you identify? None? One? Several?

"GoldCalf" by Nicolas Poussin - http://www.cts.edu/ImageLibrary/Public_domain.cfm. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GoldCalf.jpg#/media/File:GoldCalf.jpg
“GoldCalf” by Nicolas Poussin – http://www.cts.edu/ImageLibrary/Public_domain.cfm. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GoldCalf.jpg#/media/File:GoldCalf.jpg

In fact, with few exceptions, false prophets inhabit every church. They fool the unwary and gain leadership positions in the Church by deceit, prestige, and promises, as shown here, here, and here.

The Church of Jesus Christ faces a crisis in leadership. Many evidences confirm that false prophets exist in the Church today.

 

  • Even a casual observer sees spiritual decline in the Church and in the lives of believers.
  • Believers evade walking in holiness, and conform themselves to the world.
  • Preachers concentrate upon psychology and the emotional ills of mankind which turns the Bible into a psychology textbook.
  • Preachers disregard theology and doctrine with disrepute.
  • Pastors omit the challenges and corrections of sound doctrine. Instead, they emphasize a feel-good religion centered upon humanity and his feelings rather than about God and His righteous demands upon us as His creation.
  • Those who attempt to bring correction to the leadership of the Church today suffer condemnation as out of step, rocking the boat, creating dissension, and causing confusion in the Church.

 

False prophets and the failures of their ungodly leadership play a significant role in the spiritual decline of the Church. These errors grieve the Spirit of God and quench His work among Christ followers. We lack God’s glorious presence, supernatural authority, and ability that only His Spirit can bring to His people.

The Bible provides an account when the Children of Israel faced similar circumstances of faulty, ungodly leadership. They fled Egypt by God’s strong hand. They saw His glorious presence on Mount Sinai. Then, Moses went to meet with God and stayed there for 40 days. In his place, Moses left Aaron and Hur in charge of the people. (1)

While Moses talked with God on the mountain, the Children of Israel down below went into idolatry. They turned aside from God Who had displayed Himself on the mount and had revealed Himself to them with His law, and in physical, tangible ways. They turned and demanded an idol.

“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.

And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” (2)

False Prophets Dread Man.

Although this circumstance does not describe the totality of Aaron’s Godly leadership, it describes how easily one can become a false prophet, even for a short time of life.

Aaron displayed a dread of man. Although Moses left both Aaron and Hur in charge when he went up the mount, the text refers only to Aaron. What happened to Hur?

The Scriptures do not describe for us what happened to Hur. Jewish historians describe what they recorded as what happened to Hur. When the children of Israel rebelled and wanted to make an idol, they went to Hur first.

However, he stood up for God and said, “No. We worship God. We will not make an idol contrary to God’s law. We will not disobey and rebel against God and form an idol.” As a result, the people killed him.

Next, they came to Aaron and gave him the same message, “Make us gods.” Aaron gave in to their demands and said, “Ok. I’ll do that and I will make a god for you.”

Whether the account of Hur occurred or not, Aaron displayed dread of man. Fear of man appears in different forms:

  • a physical fear, where we fear for our very lives. We fear that some kind of physical harm could come to us, perhaps even death. That is a very real kind of fear. Perhaps Aaron felt this kind of fear.
  • an emotional, psychological fear, prevalent in the Church of Jesus Christ today. It reveals itself in this fashion. Our leaders today, like false propohets, display a fear of man that causes them to give in to mankind’s demands because they do not want to lose friendships or families from the church. They want a crowd, so they will yield whenever they need to yield in order to encourage people to stay and visitors to come.

Consequently, they water down the truth so that they might appeal to the crowd. The dread of man has reared its ugly head. They fear that if they stand for the truth they will hurt people. Then, people will leave, because they dislike the preacher and his messages. They will not respond to him.

This emotional fear causes false prophets to set aside the truth. Instead, they cater to mankind because of fear and they want to satisfy the crowd instead of God. That describes a very real, common experience in the Church of Jesus Christ today.

The Scriptures remind us,

“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (3)

Because of his dread of man, Aaron fell into a snare. Ultimately, he made an idol for the people.

The Church must avoid false prophets and choose leaders who will tell the truth and minister God’s truth with love. Today, many church leaders display one of the clear signs of false prophets: dread of mankind. They give in to man’s demands and desires instead of adhering to God’s truth.

False Prophets doubt God.

Aaron showed another characteristic of false prophet’s faulty, ungodly leadership: he doubted God. Aaron failed to trust Him. In those six verses describing Aaron’s plans, he fails to mention God at all. He did refer to the idol as though it was God. But, as far as making any reference whatsoever to the almighty God, the true and the living God, Aaron did not refer to Him.

  • Like Aaron, false prophets follow the world’s methods.
    • First, he devised a plan to get gold for the idol.
    • Second, he used his own skills and abilities to make the idol.
    • Finally, he tried to imitate reality by calling the idol, God.

Throughout the whole experience of Aaron with the golden calf, he relied upon the world’s methods and means. He simply followed the world’s way of doing things, the manners and practices of the world, which he learned in Egypt. He doubted God. Instead, he looked upon the world’s methods that would somehow solve the problem.

In similar fashion, the Church and false prophets fail to trust God. They develop their plans according to the world’s patterns. They leave God out of the picture, and that describes Aaron’s sin. They lead the Church to trust the ways and means of the world.

As a result, we follow false prophets and adopt the world’s practices. Then, we ask God to bless our efforts, and attempt to give God the glory. At no point do we truly trust God and seek His will and purpose.

  • Like Aaron, false prophets fail to trust God.

The Scriptures tell us frequently that when we rest upon the arm of the flesh we sin against God. God reminded His children of this truth in Isaiah 31,

“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help.” (4) 

In Scripture, Egypt always pictures the world and the flesh. “Don’t go down to Egypt for help,” He said. “They have horses, yes. They have manpower, yes.”

However, God in essence said, “Oh, that is all it is with the flesh, horses and manpower. I am your defender. I am your protector. I am your provider. Trust me.”

Again, God again told His people in Jeremiah 29,

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (5) 

Perhaps you emulate the Church and false prophets today that pay lip service to seeking after God. We start all of our church services and meetings with prayer. After all, this is a church function, and we should pray.

Therefore, we give God His due, almost like a pledge of allegiance to the flag. We will say our one or two minutes of prayer.

That describes lip service. It does not describe seeking after God with all of our hearts. To find God and His presence and plans, we must seek for Him with all of our hearts. God does not reveal Himself to the flippant. He reveals himself to the sincere in heart, those who come to him seeking him with all of their hearts.

Like Aaron, false prophets follow the world’s methods and fail to trust God, seeking Him with their whole hearts.

False prophets depart from truth into false doctrine.

Aaron exhibited another characteristic of false prophet’s faulty, ungodly leadership, departure from truth into false doctrine. Towards the end of the text he declared, “Tomorrow is the feast unto the Lord. These gods brought you out of Egypt. We will worship this god.”

  • Like all false prophets, Aaron led the people astray with false teaching and doctrine.
    • A few commentators describe the idol as one of the many idols that the Children of Israel saw in Egypt. Aaron copied it to comfort them.
    • Others explain the idol as an attempt by Aaron to make an image of the true God.

In either case, like all false prophets, Aaron led the people into false doctrine in their worship of the idol.

  • Like false prophets, Aaron sacrificed truth for the sake of peace.

Today, false prophets lead the Church into false doctrines in the same fashion as Aaron did. They push for peace at any price, even if it means sacrificing the truth. Many leaders push for unity and want it so badly that they set aside truth to get it. We do not want contention and strife. Therefore, we set aside the truth to avoid controversy and contention.

However, neither unity nor peace occurs. It is merely a cessation of strife. When you set aside the truth, you lose the basis for unity and true peace, which rest upon the truth.

Righteous ends do not sanctify nor make holy ungodly means to attain them.

Scripture shows that Jesus did not make peace at any price. In fact, He often brought division among people by inserting the truth. Jesus said,

“I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (6)

The Lord Jesus demands the truth. Granted, the search for the truth and insistence upon it might bring temporary discomfort. However, the truth will ultimately bring freedom, peace, and unity based and founded upon the truth, not a false foundation of peace at any price.

The Scriptures confirm this truth. The Lord Jesus warned his disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees, the false prophets of His day, talking about their false doctrine. He said,

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” (7)

The false prophet’s false doctrines cause dissension and problems. Do not follow it.

  • The intrusion of false prophet’s false doctrines into the Church requires Christ followers to reject them and their insidious errors.

In His letter to the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2, Christ praised the Ephesians, because they put out those from among them who followed error and false doctrine. They stood for the truth and received commendation for it.

Later in that same chapter, the Lord Jesus pronounced judgment upon the Church of Thyatira. They permitted false doctrine to exist within the Church. God does not want peace at any price. He wants the truth first. Then, unity and peace will come as consequences of the truth.

That, however, runs contrary to the Church today. Following the lead of false prophets, we want peace and unity at any price. We even call those who demand the truth troublemakers. Instead of welcoming those who stand for the truth, we often times want to remove them out of the congregation instead of rejecting the false prophets and their ruinous doctrines.

If you have done any baking, you know the effect of a small amount of yeast. When you put yeast—just a very small amount of yeast—into a baking recipe, it affects the whole recipe. And it doesn’t take very much.

The Scriptures warn us that a little leaven, a little false doctrine, leavens the whole loaf. When we permit false doctrine to permeate the congregation, it affects the whole body. Following false doctrine evidences the presence of false prophets in leadership.

The book of Jude calls Christ followers to contend earnestly for the truth. (8) We must stand up for the truths of God’s Word, and we resist the false doctrine. Further, the Scriptures tell us that we are to speak the truth in love, not anger, or contention. Rather we stand for the truth in love, demanding that our leaders speak the truth.

We must hold Church leaders accountable as God holds them accountable to the truth. We must require them to teach us the truth, calling to their attention their failure to lead us into the truth.

Summary

Because he dreaded man, Aaron satisfied the cries of the Israelites by following the world’s methods. His doubt led him to fail to trust God. His departure from the truth caused him to take a further step from God when he fashioned an idol for them to worship.

As our text reveals a clear picture of false prophets and their faulty, ungodly leadership, which brought about the horrible circumstances of Israel and the golden calf. Aaron’s faulty leadership permitted it to happen and contributed to it.

The Church of Jesus Christ is satisfied with an Aaron, who in this sad circumstance emulated false prophets. It wants someone who will give them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. Therefore, the Church suffers.

The Church of Jesus Christ must reject false prophets and follow godly leaders, without dread for man, who trust God, and who will lead us and guide us into the truth.

References

  1. Exodus 24.12-15.
  2. Exodus 32.1-6.
  3. Proverbs 29:25.
  4. Isaiah 31:1.
  5. Jeremiah 29:13.
  6. Matthew 10:34.
  7. Matthew 16:6.
  8. Jude 3.

© Thomas P Hill. Website: www.masterministries.org.

Personal Information: Thomas P. Hill, M. A. in Ministry, Luther Rice Seminary; author of 3 books: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing; Homosexuality, Christians, and the Church; and Keys To A Revolutionary Life (available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Tom’s web site). To invite Tom to speak at your college, church, or group, contact him by email at hill_tom@att.net.

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