(OPINION) Several of the Apostles and even Jesus himself warned about the Body of Christ being flooded with false prophets and teachers that would slip into the Church and lead many astray.
This was not only happening in the days of the Early Church but will become even more prevalent in the last days. I want to share with you seven major traits to identify these false prophets and teachers in this hour so that you can avoid being decided and wounded by their deceptive practices.
1- False Doctrine – False prophets and false teachers will preach and teach distortions and contradictions of the Bible. They will introduce heretical ideas and teachings that undermine the true message of God.
Two great examples of this would be the “Hyper Prosperity Gospel” which teaches that financial and material prosperity is a major sign of God’s favor and that faith in Christ can be measured by one’s personal wealth and materialism.
This doctrine emphasizes financial abundance, good health, and success in various areas of life claiming they are indicators of one’s faith and God’s blessings.
This doctrine also emphasizes one to speak positive words and affirmations, believing that their thoughts and words can shape their reality and make them become wealthy and gain positions of authority on earth.
The Prosperity Gospel also focuses on “seed faith,” where individuals are manipulated by these leaders to give certain amounts of money that are expressed by the preacher or teacher to their personal ministry in order for the recipient to obtain breakthroughs, healings, and deliverances from God.
Many of these also hold to a belief that believers will never get sick or suffer any infirmity and if they do it is because of a lack of faith. This doctrine also emphasizes personal empowerment, encouraging individuals to pursue their own dreams and goals with the belief that God wants them to succeed in all areas of life and live their “best life now”. This is why this doctrine is many times mistaken for “motivational speaking” and not Biblical exhortation.
Another example of false doctrine is “Universalism”, which is the belief that ultimately all people will be saved and reconciled with God, regardless of their beliefs or actions. This doctrine rejects the concept of eternal damnation or punishment.
However, it is disputed by many traditional Christian denominations that adhere to the belief in heaven, hell, and the need for personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul warned that many in the last days would embrace another Jesus, A different spirit and a different gospel.
Sadly, we now have also come to a time when many of these men and women have openly embraced all kinds of witchcraft, new age, humanism, and false religions and have brought it right into the House of God and many believers have no discernment and are openly accepting it.
2- Deception – Jesus warned about the rise of deception in the last days and that False prophets and teachers would rise and use cunning and manipulative tactics to mislead and confuse people, often by mixing truth with lies. In fact, when the disciples asked him what would be the signs of his return, the very first thing he warned them of was “deception”.
“And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them”. – Luke 21:8
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but are ravenous wolves inwardly. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” – Matthew 7:15-16
Paul warned in his letter to the Church at Thessalonica that deception in the last days would be so great that if possible, even the very elect would be deceived.
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this reason, God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness”. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. – Matthew 24:23-25
There will be many that have come and gone and will come in the future that will make heretical statements that they are the Christ, the Messiah, or declare they are one of the prophets of the Bible such as Elijah who is to come.
Perhaps one of the two witnesses of the Book of Revelation. Even false Apostles would infiltrate the church and deceive many. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light”. 2 Corinthians 11:13-14
3- Greed – False prophets and false teachers are motivated by money, power, and notoriety. They will always exploit their followers financially, seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of others.
Many of these have no shame in fleecing the flock for personal gain. They have created pyramid scheme networks, prophecy programs, newsletters with subscriptions, and even offer “paid-for prophecies” for those gullible enough to pay for them.
The reality is Christ shed his blood and endured the cross and there is nothing we can earn or purchase from him that he hasn’t already purchased for us through the atonement.
4- Immorality and Iniquity: False prophets and false teachers often appear to be righteous and blessed by God in the public eye but secretly live immoral lives, disregarding God’s commandments.
They may engage in sexual immorality, dishonesty, lies, deceit, drunkenness or other sinful behaviors. Many of these have multiple wives, jumping from marriage to marriage claiming that God has “released them from their former assignments, and given them a “new assignment”.
I have even had evangelists that have told me that they personally witnessed well-known bishops and pastors engaging in “swinging” and even offered them an opportunity to partake of it. Paul warned us to hold to a doctrine that accords with godliness. – 1 Timothy 6
Then there is drunkenness, So many of these false prophets and teachers condone and partake of drunkenness and see nothing wrong with it whatsoever, despite the Word of God condemning it, even more so among one who calls themself a prophet or a teacher. Christ warned about these types of men in the last days when he said:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:21-23
5- Divisiveness: False prophets and false teachers make a practice of sowing discord and division among believers. They promote their own agendas, create factions, or cause strife within the church communities. They form alliances and factions that they run with and consequently, they all partake of the same practices. They refuse authority and will not submit to any church or pastor. Wolves do not stay in one location very long they move in packs to avoid being identified.
6- The Deity of Christ – This one is hard to believe but many false prophets and teachers will actually preach and teach that Jesus was not the only way to Heaven and that he is merely one of many ways to the Father. It is very important to pay attention to what they speak. This would go back to their “doctrine”.
7- False Signs and Wonders – Now I want to use extreme caution with this final trait because many in the Body of Christ have embraced a doctrine of “cessationism” which teaches that ALL miracles, signs, wonders, and healings have all ceased in operation therefore, anything that fits this bill today is not of God and that is not true at all. God is still in the healing business, he still performs miracles and the gifts are still in full operation in the Body of Christ today.
However, I want you to understand that just because you see healing, miracles, signs, and wonders performed under a certain so-called “prophet” or “teacher” doesn’t automatically equate them as being of God.
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘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. – Deuteronomy 13:1-3
It is imperative that we recognize the character, the fruit, and the doctrine of those who deem to be “prophets” and “teachers” in this hour because deception is only going to grow stronger as we near the coming of the Lord.
“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves, men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves”. – Acts 20:29-30