In our world today we are surrounded by many who claim to be Christians. Unfortunately, many of these are really only Satan in disguise. Now at this point you may feel that is a harsh statement, but bear with me for just a moment. A part of this popular effort at large in the world today is a claim for many of the special gifts of the Spirit shown in the New Testament. These claims can either be true or false. Jesus (Matthew 24:24) warned of false Christs and false prophets and Paul rather bluntly calls their works “lying” or “false” wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). If they are false, then we must realize that it is Satan that’s at work in the disguise of Christianity.
Almost every week we are informed by various newspaper, radio, TV or other ads that some great “Christian” teacher is “speaking for God” locally and will reveal something that no one else knows or do something that no one else does. A few years ago while we were living in New Zealand, one such man prophesied that a major earthquake would strike the Taupo region on a given date. A short time before that date a denominational paper ran an explanation of why this great proof prophecy might go wrong… just in case it didn’t happen!
Other similar “prophets” proclaim that God has revealed to them that some worldly event or other is the “sign” of Christ’s return. Many of them are setting dates (usually several years in the future), others are busy trying to explain why their previous dates were wrong, and others have never been heard from again once their prophetic date has passed.
The result of all this has been seemingly a lot of interest in Christianity, but in reality a shallow faith and interest that disappears once their particular prophet is proven wrong. Such a reaction is exactly what we would expect of the work of Satan.
Think back about that earthquake prophecy. Since that man made his prophecy in God’s name, he must be judged by God’s standard. In the book of Deuteronomy, God sets forth the definition of false prophets.
To begin with, if a person should make prophesies that come true but the prophet counsels rebellion or disobedience to the revealed word of God, then that person is a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). The first standard for prophets is their consistency with what God has already told us. Therefore our first line of defense is to know God’s word and use it as our standard.
The second test is then whether or not the prophecy comes true. Deuteronomy 18:22 says, “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him!” (NIV--emphasis added). Notice that there is no room for second or third chances and no excuses.
So what response can there be to the false quake prophecy and all the others? God’s response is: “That is a false prophet!” And what of all the ongoing predictions of the signs of the end? God’s already revealed word says that it is not for us to know the times set by God, that no man does know when that time is and that when it does come, it will come “like a thief in the night” (see Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2; 2 Peter 3:10). Furthermore, it will not be a secret when Christ does come, rather everyone, both living and dead, will know it (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 1:7).
When God speaks, He is right. When man speaks presumptuously for God, man is wrong. The world does not need “well meaning” false prophets. The world does desperately need the pure truth of God’s revealed word that can save souls. We are not to be concerned about things that He didn’t tell us; rather, our responsibility is to spread the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. Doing that will build true faith in the God who is always right and will brand the false prophets for what they really are!