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Are you easy prey for false prophets? (redux)

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The following post was first published on my blog on August 23, 2013. With the rise of men and women calling themselves prophets, many people need to hear its warning more than ever.

The Bible is clear: false prophets are wolves that devour unsuspecting sheep.

Jesus said:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)

And the apostle Paul had this to say about false teachers.

“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30).

Despite these clear warnings from an apostle and even Jesus himself, many people are still naive to the threat. So, my question for you is, “Are you easy prey for false prophets?”

The answer is yes if any of the following statements–drawn from Scripture–describe you.

  • You think God won’t allow you to be deceived. I’ve often heard it said, by people in the New Apostolic Reformation movement, that we should not worry about false prophets because God will not allow His people to be deceived. But if you believe you can’t be deceived, then you are ignoring numerous warnings in Scripture about the need to guard against false prophets and false teachers (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 2:1).
  • You are overly impressed by the miraculous. Many people are so dazzled by miracles they automatically assume the miracle-worker must have been sent from God. If this describes you, then you are in danger of falling victim to false prophets who, according to Scripture, will perform “great signs and wonders” (Matthew 24:24; Revelation 13:11-15).
  • You don’t know sound principles of biblical interpretation. You may read the Bible and think you know it well. But you have not done the hard work of learning how to read it correctly using the historical-grammatical approach. This means that you rip verses out of context or spiritualize them when they are meant to be taken at face value. Anyone who reads the Bible in these ways is susceptible to being lead astray by false prophets (2 Peter 3:15-17).
  • You think you are extra-special to God and deserve to have your desires fulfilled. False prophets will tell people whatever they want to hear–including promising them the fulfillment of  their desires for worldly pleasures, such as money and sex (2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:18; Jude 1:4). You are a sitting duck for false prophets if you are driven by pride and a pursuit of pleasure rather than truth.
  • You put too much trust in people. You think if someone is a church leader and likeable, then he or she must be a godly person. But you are not heeding the warnings in Scripture about false prophets and false teachers who disguise themselves as true believers (Matthew 7:15; Jude 1:12-13).
  • You do not value doctrine. You think doctrine is dry and knowledge of doctrine is not essential to having a vibrant faith. You may even believe that doctrine kills faith. If so, you might be among those people who mockingly refer to churches that emphasize doctrine as “dead” and to seminaries that teach doctrine as “cemeteries.” But the apostle John is clear that doctrine should be used as a litmus test for evaluating prophets (1 John 4:1-3).

Can you think of other statements that should be added to my list?

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Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

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23 Responses to “Are you easy prey for false prophets? (redux)”

  1. Paula Southworth Says:

    Many times I was told, “God won’t allow His people to be deceived “; that is not true. I was deceived. When the full depth of the deception hit me I was stunned.People need to be reminded to heed the warnings in scripture.

  2. Sandy Says:

    Holly, thank you for reposting this list, it is even more valid today.
    Another item on the list might be “You feel it is wrong to evaluate a spiritual leader because that would be “rebellious” against the “anointed man of God.”
    The wolves are very good at claiming special spiritual authority and demanding that the sheep “submit” to it or face dire consequences. But a real leader is a servant to God’s people, not a spiritual bully.

  3. bill (cycleguy) Says:

    Holly: This is an excellent list! Thanks for your thoughts. One that hit me, and one that I have faced recently, is “if you care more about what people think” you are a sitting duck. I recently had a friend get enamored by some in the NAR and I watched him leave. I tried but to no avail. He now avoids any talk that will get close to this. When I see him now it is more a “how are you?” meeting.

  4. Wayne Nowacki Says:

    This list is very much spot on. I’ve also shown this movement teaches a culture of honor for those in authority above them. This places inordinate trust in the very ones wielding the power and control over those underneath them. They practice name calling of any outside their sphere of influence (without doctrinal defense unless taken out of context) and also become strongly against the practices of more traditional church structure and beliefs.

  5. Jeff Weddle Says:

    I would add:

    You measure the truth of a doctrine/teacher by external measures of success: money, buildings, followers, etc.

  6. Daniel Plunkett Says:

    Such a true article. So many Christians think they are beyond deception when scripture says otherwise!

  7. John Shipton Says:

    The techniques of deception and the misuse of scripture abounds among Word of Faith preachers, hence the the false teaching of sowing financial seeds to their ministries to receive God’s blessings. They fleece the flock to build their empires and to live luxury lifestyles. They hog so called Christian TV channels and radio stations building up followers who try to emulate and copy them.
    The problem arising is why do those following these false preachers, teachers, and prophets are prepared to give ridiculous amounts, book hotel and tickets to hear them at their conferences and gatherings expecting signs and wonders to be performed on stage while they try to conjure up the Holy Spirit to be manifested not allowing discernment of occult practices that take place. These charlatans do not preach the message of the true Gospel; nor is the Holy Spirit present or the actions being taken are approved by Almighty God. For the shenanigans taking place are not Holy Ghost inspired, and instead, another gospel is preached in order to fleece the flock.
    The six statements revealed who people are following. This is not discussed or revealed by what is recognised to be the Christian media. Nor does the so called Christian Church is prepared to expose the wolves who masquerade in sheeps clothing. Instead, false teachings are being swept under the carpet and not talked about while the church establishments hoodwink members into a false sense of security with the pretense that all is well and what is taking place is not that important and has nothing do to with them.
    That is why the modern western christian church is in turmoil, falling apart at the seams, cannot distinguish the wood from the trees, infiltrated and used by false teachers and prophets, and going round in circles what is Truth and error, and not preaching REPENTANCE and SALVATION. instead it compromises and allowing another gospel to take hold while being modernized to suit the whims of the 21st century which is allowing itself to destroy morals, values, and ethics without a murmur.
    My wife and I were “sent to Coventry” due to warning Christians about the effects of the Toronto Blessing and the occult practice behind visualization which was said to be of the Holy Spirit. Now churches are being told to expect a Toronto Super Blessing for 2018 and Christians should jump in the river of blessing which will flow through Christendom.
    The younger generation of the Church may accept the new “bit of fresh air of air” that is likely to be manifested, but pensioners like my wife and I, will question the spiritual activity that lays behind the phenomenon that is being predicted.
    The question is and the explanation given by Faith preachers will be “God is doing something new and will be special” which is non biblical and has nothing to do with their already false utterances of the coming world wide revival. Instead, it will add to the falling away which will happen in the End Times.
    Maranatha!

  8. Carl Helmuth Says:

    This is a great list!
    I would add three:

    1. You think that God speaks to you (or someone else) personally outside of scripture.
    2. You think you can “feel” God’s presence or that God is moving.
    3. You rely on an personal experience to prove a doctrine rather than solely the Word of God.

  9. Elin Says:

    I would also add: “You’re very gullible and believe everything that sounds good and biblical to you.”

  10. Carol Berubee Says:

    Good article, Holly. Thanks for reposting it. The problem with some of the items on the list is that most people caught up in this false teaching would not self-identify with those characteristics.

    For example, most people wouldn’t say they’re “overly impressed by the miraculous,” but would say they’re just seeking out the signs and wonders they see in the Gospels and Acts. Most people wouldn’t say they think they have a lack of “sound principles of biblical doctrine,” but would say that all of the Bible is open for the taking as needed. Most people wouldn’t say they’re “extra-special to God,” but would say that God blesses those who are His, so why not them?

    All we can do is keep teaching and praying that God will give unto all of us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17), that we approve the things that are excellent (discern the things that differ; Philippians 1:10).

  11. John Shipton Says:

    This is the link which the “Super Toronto Blessing is coming soon as shown here on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVlNV8nkWBU
    See what he has acquired recently so that he can spread the word and to take part as reported here on http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2018/01/18/kenneth-copeland-36-million-jet/
    The same preacher proclaimed that THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION was demonic as revealed here on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoYTgXUkdUc Notice what that was said about his friend is the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and that “2018 is the year of the Holy Ghost and fire.”
    Other Word of Faith preachers are said to be saying the same thing about the year of 2018.
    A number live in luxurious mansions having their own private aircraft jetting not only throughout the USA, Europe, and the world, they pay so called Christian TV and radio stations so that they can preach false doctrines and twisted versions of another gospel to those who have itching ears while building their own empires and attracting followers.
    The warnings are there but who are prepared to take heed!

  12. Jane Says:

    Those that are deceived are those that don’t know God (the Word). They’ll believe anything that tickles their fancy. Because they don’t read/study the Word of God, the word of men (lies) speaks to them instead. This is how Satan uses the idea of apostasy (leaving the faith) to gain followers after himself. It’s a crying shame that this happens, but I have a few friends that are into Charismania (false prophets and apostles galore) and that’s what thrills them the most, instead of the truth. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge….” (Hosea 4:6)

    It gets really interesting when the Charismatics join up with the Messianic ‘congregations’….after this happens they preach against Christmas and Easter, calling them pagan holidays. And so they celebrate Hanukkah with Jews and try to tell us that the way to God is through the Torah (God’s laws) instead of thru God’s grace (Jesus).

    “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt 22:37-40)

  13. Mike Hughes Says:

    The problem is that many of the false prophets are themselves deceived. They really believe in what they are saying and doing.

  14. John Bivens Says:

    The article was good, however, you are missing a very important one that is rampant today and I pray it is not by design. Do you believe in divine election the way John Calvin did?

  15. John Says:

    I did Master’s Level Research in the area of “spiritual abuse.” The problem has a lot to do with unbiblical church structures. How is it if a family would have two parents and several children and never when the family gathers over a meal are the children allowed to talk. Jesus trained his disciples – apprenticeship style… training them by allowing them to follow and to watch and to likewise do. In most churches this is not the practise at all. Can people learn to minister by forever listening to others lecture? By listening to the same one lecturing week after week? Because no training takes place in church people go to Bible College and Seminary where they learn to read what others have had to say and to write papers accordingly. This is not training either.

    Wolves are the ones who feed off of the sheep.

    The best book which in my opinion would help someone out of spiritual abuse stemming from a church group or even a cult would be Mary Alice Chrnologar Twisted Scriptures. It helps to break through the programming. And it is also a good thing for any church goer.

  16. John B Says:

    If you accept what the person at the front says blindly, even if they only quote a verse or two.

    If you pay any heed to someone whose message can be boiled down to “yeah, yeah, I know what the Bible says but…”

    If you don’t check the context because what you heard came from the pulpit.

    If you listen to those who teach the exact opposite of what Scripture teaches but then hide behind lines like “touch not the Lord’s anointed” to avoid being challenged.

    A couple of examples:

    If you read Job 22:28 and believe that you can declare a thing and have it established for you, chances are you’re on your way to being deceived if you aren’t already deceived.

    If you accept a teaching that says something like “when the visions start, trust they are from God and accept them like a child” – note “when the visions start” not “if the visions start”, and notice the focus on blind trust rather than the Scriptural call to “test all things” (1Th 5:21) and “test the spirits” (1Jn 4:1), you’re in danger.

    If you regard every idea that floats through your head as being prophetic and don’t test it, chances are you’re in danger. Sometimes they are from God, sometimes they are just random thoughts, sometimes they result from eating too much cheese.

  17. Diane Woerner Says:

    There is also an undercurrent of distress that drives people to those who are perceived to be strong leaders, who seem to have the wisdom and authority to bring our nation/the church back on to “firmer ground.” People want to believe in unity and that God’s kingdom will prevail over the increasing social terrors of our day.

    With regard to the younger generations who have been taught to ascertain their own meaning and purpose (something they really can’t do), they can be powerfully drawn to causes that “feel” true and significant and transcendent.

  18. dean Says:

    I think when they searched the scriptures daily to see if what was said was true or not, they were Looking to catch the preacher in a lie and today they just dont do that….

  19. dean Says:

    Jane said: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge….” (Hosea 4:6)

    You could add – 2 peter 3:16 – which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest as they do also the other scriptures unto their own destruction.

  20. Verginia Says:

    Is Joel Osteen part of the NAR movement?

  21. Lynn Says:

    When you look at the fruit of the false prophets and believe it is good. You do not recognize them as false.

    Mt. 7:15-16 says “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.

  22. Meleah Says:

    Hi, new to the site and am checking it out but wanted to comment, if I may. Your post ended with the question, “Can you think of other statements that should be added to my list?” In short, yes. I would say one big factor in being led astray is whether or not someone is in a vulnerable emotional or physical state. I can see how, if someone has had a recent death in the family, for example, perhaps a parent has lost a child, and up until that moment they may have felt they were very well-grounded in their faith and knew the Bible well, but then this huge shock comes, something really gut-wrenching, and they suddenly have a whole host of questions that had never even come to mind. Turns out, maybe they weren’t as grounded as they thought. So now they want answers fast, peace of mind fast, etc, because every minute is so painful and feels so unbearable, they just want a sense of stability and yet their minds are too weary to really parse things out. Combine that with well-meaning friends and family who may be misled themselves, already, but want to do something, anything to help… Same thing if someone is in physical pain. And, of course, the devil just loves to take advantage of people at times like that. Then again, perhaps someone is in a state of elation, people have been known to be vulnerable in those states as well and, hey, the devil doesn’t care why we’re vulnerable, it just matters that we are…I guess the thought occurred to me that it’s kind of like the advice people get that ‘you should not make major life decisions when someone you love dies’– and yet, that’s what sad, isn’t it. So much of false teaching is something that just creeps in gradually, over time. So maybe the real factor is whether or not someone has been in the habit of regularly studying their Bible, proactively.

  23. Holly Says:

    Hi Meleah! You raise some very good points. Thanks for posting and welcome to this site.

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