How to Identify False Prophets
By Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1997
This subject is one of the most important that any Christian ought to understand in a pro-found manner, but it turns out that this is one of the least known doctrinal and prophetic themes that those who love the biblical revelation will encounter in the world today. The main reason for this ignorance is because most ordinary believers (who constitute the vast majority of us) are unwilling to apply the biblical teachings that Christ and the apostles provide so that we can be protected from the false principles that are advocated by those whom the Bible calls "false prophets." The truth is, most Christians are prone not to categorize the "false prophets" of this world with the stigma of the title. They more often than not wish to stress what biblical interpreters have in common and/or what they like about those who do not adhere to the teachings of the Scriptures. By doing this without proper judgment, they unwittingly countenance and support the very teachings that the "false prophets" are trying to disseminate. We who live at this time of the end need to be aware of these matters because Christ said to expect a slew of "false prophets" who will arise to charm people with their acts and teachings. As a result, these false teachers will lead people astray from the essential truths of God. We need to be cognizant of the signs that God has given to his people that can classify teachers of the Bible into the criterion of "true" or "false." The foregoing article will explain from the Bible just what we should be looking for. We can know "How to Identify False Prophets."
One of the central teachings of the apostle John that he insisted that those of his time should realize (and to leave as an example of truth for all future Christians and especially for us who are living at this End-Time period) was his statement about false prophets. Notice what John stated in I John 4:1.
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits [put the spirits and their teachings to the test] whether they are of God: because many [not the few, but many] false prophets are gone out into the world."
The apostle John considered that people were inspired by various spirits (by angelic hosts ó whether good or bad ó or by the spirit of God). Of course, the spirit of God is always whole-some, but when teachings come from angelic spirits, John told us to try (or to put to the test) the various spirits because many false prophets have gone out into the world inspired by evil spirits. It must be understood that evil spirits (including Satan himself) do not often look bad in their external appearance or in their social and religious teachings. Indeed, we are told in Scripture that there were numerous people in the first century teaching doctrines about Christ and even looking so good on the outside that they could trick people into thinking that they were the very apostles of Christ Jesus and yet they were instruments of Satan the Devil. The apostle Paul warned people in no uncertain manner to be aware of their tactics because these false apostles and false prophets normally look good and righteous on the surface. As a matter of fact, Satan himself appears as an angel of light. Notice what Paul warned speaking about men who wanted the Corinthian Christians to return to believing and observing a type of Judaism in their Christian walk. Paul said:
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
This section of Scripture tells us very much. It shows that these false teachers are normally those who look righteous and good on the surface. They even appear as "ministers of righteousness" by teaching messages that are socially and religiously acceptable to most ordinary people in the society. Remember that Christ himself also taught that at the end of the age, many people would arise who would be saying that Christ was indeed the Messiah of the world, but even though they did this, they would also be great deceivers. Note what Christ told his apostles in Matthew 24:4,5.
"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying [or admitting], I am the Christ; and shall deceive many."
Christ Jesus went further than that in warning us about these people who state they are followers of Christ and claim to be advocating the basic principles of Christianity. Note what Christ said in Matthew 7:21-23.
"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 [again note that Christ said "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."
We should notice that Christ predicted that MANY would even "prophesy" in his name with many wonderful signs and works, but they would still be considered by Christ to be iniquitous "prophets." Indeed, the apostle Paul got as bold as Christ himself when he spoke specifically of the time of the end (the very period that you and I are now entering). Note what the apostle Paul related about a Wicked person whom he called "the son of perdition" or "the man of sin" (and the Book of Revelation called him the "Beast" and whom the apostle John referred to as the "Antichrist"). This Wicked person and those associated with him will perform some outstanding signs and wonders that will cause the whole world to be deceived and misled into believing his teachings. Here is what Paul warned us to expect.
"And then shall that Wicked [a single Wicked person] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned [judged] who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
2 Thessalonians 2:8-12
We should also be aware that the apostle John gave warnings from Christ himself which were written in the Book of Revelation about the very times we are just about to enter. He spoke about a "false prophet" who would support the evil man called the Beast. Let us notice carefully what John said in Revelation 13:13-16.
"And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound of a sword and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
This is easy to understand if people will pay attention to all the Scriptural signs of identification to sort out what is happening. As I have shown in many other articles, booklets and books (and numerous lectures), this "image of the beast" is that of an angelic cherub which the people will place in a new Temple of God to be built in Jerusalem. It is perfectly legal to place images of cherubs inside the inner Temple (Exodus 25:17-22). The "man of sin" (or the "Beast" in the Book of Revelation) will actually sit in the inner Temple of God where there were images of two cherubim with their wings outstretched over the Mercy Seat (or, actually, the Seat of Covering). One of those cherubs was called the "King of Tyre" Ė the angelic cherub in charge of Tyre and the world mercantile systems governed by the Phoenicians ó who became disqualified from his high position in the sixth century B.C. (Ezekiel 28:11-19). The other was no doubt the cherub known as the "King of Salem [Jerusalem]" who was Melchizedek (the Angel of the Lord, that is, Christís own personal Angel who often substituted for Christ at specific and important times).
In the new Temple to be built on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the authorities will follow the actions of Moses and place the two cherubs in the inner part of the Temple. Both cherubs have the same appearance in an outward way. One of them, however, since the time of Ezekiel, has been disqualified from ruling in Godís Temple. Only one cherub (Melchizedek) has the right to be in the inner Temple, but which of the cherubs is the obedient one? They both look alike, and Melchizedek was "made like unto the Son of God" (Hebrews 7:3) ó he looks like Christ in appearance. But so does the other cherub called the "King of Tyre." Christ did not have long hair and neither do these cherubs. Though there are hosts of evil angels who are forced to wear long hair to show their demeaning and shameful ranks (Revelation 9:7,8), even Satan the Devil does NOT have long hair because Satan was able (and is still able) to appear before God in heaven (Job 1:6; 2:1) and no man or angel can appear before God in His Temple (whether on earth or in heaven) with long hair. Remember that human males who became the "long haired" Nazarites of the Bible were also to be "separated" from God. Those Israelite men could not re-enter Godís Temple until they cut their hair. Long hair on a male (human or angelic) is a demeaning sign in Godís eyes and it signifies a shameful attitude of rank. Because of this, the apostle Paul commanded that no Christian man should allow himself to have long hair (I Corinthians 11:3-16). Long hair prohibits such a man from direct communion with God. A long haired man is considered by God as an "outsider," and is confined into a profane and unclean area. He is unable to enter Godís House and His presence.
What this means is the fact that a time is coming just before the Second Advent of Christ when this whole world will be deceived by false prophets who will look so good and righteous on the surface. The term "prophet" in the Bible means not only one who can "fore-tell" the future, but one who can "forth-tell" teachings to an audience as an ordinary speaker (I Corinthians 14:29-32). The world, however, will be deceived by the Beast of Revelation who will claim to be the Christ returned from heaven with his angels. Actually, this Beast will be energized by Satan and his angels who will indeed be cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-17). The world will mistake Satan and his angels as being Christ with His holy angels at the Second Advent. It will be a clever subterfuge. Even Christ told his intimate apostles that the deception will be so clever that this counterfeit scheme will be difficult to detect as a false Satanic one. Christ said: "If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24). Thankfully, the "very elect" will NOT be deceived. How can we be sure? What are the signs that will identify the False Prophet and all his false prophets?
The first protection real Christians have is our faith in what the biblical revelation clearly teaches. For example, when the true Christ Jesus appears from heaven with His angels, you and I (as Christians) will be transported into the clouds to meet Christ in the air (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). But when Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven (Revelation 12) whom the world will believe is Christ and His angels coming back to earth, you and I will NOT be caught up in the air to meet that false group of spirit beings descending from heaven. You and I can know for certain that such a "Second Advent" is a false Advent. No matter what miracles, signs and wonders are performed by those evil hosts coming from heaven, those spiritual beings will NOT be Christ and His angels. All people at that time who support the claim of these false spirits will themselves be "false prophets." What we need to do is to ask the Father and the real Christ (our Elder Brother) to protect us during those times (and they will) because the whole world is going to be deceived into believing that Satan and his angels are actually Christ and His angels returning to earth at the Second Advent.
There is another infallible proof that can protect you from the wiles and deceptions of false prophets (though they may claim to be the greatest Christians the world has ever seen). That is the fact that the apostle Paul stated dogmatically that "there is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5). This means in the clearest of terms that there is NOT a human on this earth, NOR is there an angel in heaven, who is an intermediary between us (you and me) and the Father, except Christ Jesus. It is Christ who is our only Mediator. This provides for us a great "test" for those who claim to be spokesmen or spokeswomen for Christ. The truth is, there is not a man, woman, child, angel, archangel or cherub who has any mediatorial role to play in our individual relationships with the Father. Christ is that ONLY Mediator!
So, what does this mean in detecting "false prophets"? This means that you and I need no Pope. We need no men as Priests. We need no Ministers. We need no Evangelists. We need no Faith Healers that you or I must seek out for healings or other blessings. We need no Prophets nor do we need any person whatever! But almost all the False Prophets are in the business of saying something like: "You have to come to me for blessings." Or, some may say: "You have to go to that man or to that woman for anything from God." They often say: "Christ has given men authority on earth to be your ministers and you have to submit to them and to the authority of the leaders of the Church of God." This is pure and unadulterated nonsense. Worse than that, it is the propagation and dissemination of the Antichrist system where you have men standing in as the representatives of God. So many claim that the men who lead in any Church of God are the human authorities to stand in for God in exercising Godís law among humans. The truth is, however, any man or woman who teaches such a dastardly doctrine is violating the principle of I Timothy 2:5 where it states that NO HUMAN or ANGEL can be a Mediator between you and the Father. Only Jesus Christ has that role and that authority. Men who assume such powers are "Antichrists."
There is also one other essential truth to keep in mind. We are told in the Holy Scriptures that only the Father and Christ now have immortality (I Timothy 6:15,16). Yet the vast majority of so-called teachers and prophets today (even in the Christian world) claim that you and I who are humans also have immortality. This is a lie of the highest rank. You and I are humans and we are mortal. We shall not receive our immortality until we are resurrected from the dead at the Second Advent of Christ (see I Corinthians 15 for this clear teaching). But some 90 percent of Christian teachers and ministers today (including even those who claim to have direct contact with God through their "tongues speaking" and similar "spiritual experiences") teach and pro-mote the so-called "Immortality of the Soul." They will tell you that each of us has an "Immortal Soul" and our "soul" will experience a future life either in heaven with Christ and the Father or in an ever burning "hell" with Satan and his fallen angels. This is an absolute LIE!
This is the very first LIE that the serpent taught Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and "false prophets" have always perpetuated it. If anyone comes to you (even with great signs, wonders, miracles and foretelling accurately some future events) and also teaches the "Immortality of the Soul," you can know instantly that such a person is an outright "false prophet." Really, it is quite easy to identify the "false prophets."
Ernest L. Martin
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