It’s very simple to spot a false prophet. The Bible gives us excellent instructions. All we’ve got to do is read and we’ll figure it out in an instant. Not only must he be 100% correct if he prophesies about the future, he must not direct other people away from God or God’s Word.
“But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.” Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.” (Jeremiah 23:14–15, ESV)
Jeremiah is not just speaking of prophets of a particular location, but to all those who do the same things.
A false prophet talks about following the Bible but doesn’t follow the whole book. He is a part-Bible expert, like his father, the father of lies. He picks and chooses what Scripture he preaches, and is even pickier about which Scripture he follows. He wants people to follow himself rather than God.
“To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.” (Isaiah 8:20, ESV)
“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32, ESV)
The false prophet takes the Law into his own hands to misuse it for his own gain. He allows and encourages sexual immorality including divorce and homosexuality (the teachings of Balaam). He is more concerned about self-defined acceptance, tolerance, and unconditional love than God’s definition of holy love and grace or His command to repent.
A true prophet will speak according to the entirety of God’s Word. One of the ways we know Jesus was a true prophet, and The Prophet whom Moses said would come, is that He spoke the words of God given to Moses. All other prophets of God do the same. A simple test is, do they follow all of God’s Law or not?
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18–19, ESV)
A false prophet glorifies himself rather than God. God is glorified when His Word is taught, lived, and defended.
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (John 7:18, ESV)”
The minister sent by God is one who speaks all of God’s words without fail and without compromise.
A false prophet speaks visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. He says “all will be well” and “no disasters will befall” those who despise the word of the Lord and follow their own heart instead of God’s heart.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ ” (Jeremiah 23:16–17, ESV)
A true prophet of God will warn of departure from God’s word. He will speak the words of God, the first one of which is REPENT.
“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.” (Jeremiah 23:21–22, ESV)
A false prophet tells people to go after other gods, either in the form of idols or self-image. Going after other god’s means to obey something or someone other than God. God tests us with many false prophets, and there are many today teaching that we don’t have to listen to all of the words of God. The true prophet says that we shall keep God’s commandments and obey His voice, serve Him and hold fast to Him.
“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. (Deuteronomy 13:1–4, ESV)
Do not fail the test.